Spreading hope at CSU through the Esperanza Scholarship

“I didn’t know it was unusual for a student to create a scholarship,” shares Madeleine Sheahan (’15), who established the Esperanza Scholarship, which supports first-generation liberal arts students, during her sophomore year at Colorado State University.

Sheahan, who graduated from CSU with a double major in Business and Spanish, often heard CSU President Tony Frank talk about ‘hope,’ inspiring her to name her scholarship after the Spanish translation of the word.

Sheahan saw first-hand the hope that scholarship support could give students. While at CSU, Sheahan was the recipient of the Deborah M. Barney Memorial Award, the Albert C. and Ann E. Yates Scholarship Endowment, and the Ram Legacy Scholarship. This support enabled Sheahan to actively participate in Fraternity and Sorority Life, taking a leadership position as the Panhellenic president. She also was able to learn more about the impact of private support through her role as a presidential ambassador.

Most importantly, scholarship support enabled Sheahan to add a Spanish major, which shaped her career post-graduation. Now in her last year of law school at the University of Denver, she has spent her internship hours working for the Adams County district attorney’s office.

“Having a Spanish major means that I am able to connect more personally to people at the courthouse. There are many Spanish-speaking witnesses and victims in the cases that I work on,” explains Sheahan. “The legal process can be scary and connecting with my clients in a language they are familiar with is a very human experience and can help ease their fears.”

As part of a family of educators and CSU alumni, she always believed in the importance of higher education and opening doors for people. As she entered CSU, she saw the challenges many of her peers faced due to financial strain.

Determined to make a difference, Sheahan saved her paychecks during her summer job and returned to CSU for her sophomore year with enough to establish a scholarship.

“You don’t have to be a millionaire or retired or even well-established to make a difference. You can be a regular person with a regular job and still establish a scholarship,” shares Sheahan. “It is really rewarding and meaningful to help students. If philanthropy is something you believe is important, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Madeleine Sheahan at a podium speaking
Sheahan speaking at the College of Liberal Arts Donor Brunch.

Since its establishment, the Esperanza Scholarship has supported four scholarship recipients and Sheahan always looks forward to meeting her scholarship recipients at the annual CLA Donor Brunch. This year, Sheahan was a featured speaker at the event, sharing her story with donors and scholarship recipients. Beyond the story behind her scholarship, Sheahan encouraged students to think about what kind of impact they wanted to make on their fellow Rams and on the next generation of students.

“We all share the hope that if we each do our part to support this institution, CSU will continue to be the incubator of hope for generations to come,” said Sheahan.

Even during law school, Sheahan continues to fund her scholarship and looks forward to doing so for years to come. She carries her liberal arts education with her into the future as a lawyer with a passion for helping others.  

Learn more about the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.  

To make your own impact on College of Liberal Arts students, make a gift to the Esperanza Scholarship or another liberal arts scholarship that aligns with your passion here: https://advancing.colostate.edu/2170

Interested in establishing your own scholarship? Contact Savannah Kacher at Savannah.Kacher@colostate.edu to learn more.