When Mike Burmudzija looked into the PepsiCo Foundation Family Scholars program for his daughter six years ago, he was stunned by the application. “At the time, it said the PepsiCo Foundation had given out more than $50 million to associates’ children to help them pursue higher education,” the longtime District Manager recalls. “I just thought, ‘Wow, that is an astronomical number.’ I’ve always known this company appreciates its people, but this really amplified it.”
This year the scholarship total will total nearly $70 million with more than 6,000 awarded since the program (formerly called ExCEL Scholarship) began in 1996. And Mike has now seen firsthand how valuable that financial aid is: His daughter, Shaye, received the scholarship for four years while in college. It helped her earn a degree with zero debt. “To see PepsiCo invest in my daughter’s future like that was just amazing,” Mike says.
Many other PepsiCo families around the world have had experiences like the Burmudzija’s. Here are some of their stories about how the Family Scholars program has helped them:
The scholarship gave me a chance to blaze my own trail at PepsiCo.
Shaye Burmudzija (center) with her parents Mike and Erin.
I used to think my dad’s job was awesome because he always brought home our favorite chips. Now, I appreciate it more because I know how PepsiCo truly supports people. Receiving this scholarship relieved a huge financial burden. I completed my degree without having to take out any loans. That support helped me turn my part-time summer job with PepsiCo into a full-time role, and last year I started a sales leadership program with Quaker that I hope will help me advance my career even further.
A little funding enabled some incredibly educational experiences.
Graham Rhodes (left) with son James, daughter Phoebe, wife Emma and son Charlie (from left to right).
Each of our three children received the scholarship for at least two years while in university. The extra money helped them afford opportunities they otherwise might not have. James traveled to Spain to do fieldwork as part of his environmental biology major. Charlie went diving off the coast of Bermuda on his way to becoming a marine biologist. Phoebe put her financial aid toward housing as she completed a geography degree. The curiosity to explore different cultures has had such a positive effect on our children, and I’m so appreciative that PepsiCo helped make these experiences possible.
Being able to focus solely on school helped me earn my dream job.
Sarah Ives (center) with brother Daniel, father Bill and mother Cindy (from left to right).
I’ve had my heart set on becoming a teacher ever since I was 10 years old. Earning this scholarship helped make that possible. I’m so glad my dad suggested I apply. Getting the scholarship relieved a lot of my stress about going to university. I was able to pay for a laptop and textbooks without having to get a part-time job, which helped me focus more on my studies. And my efforts paid off: Last year, I started my dream job teaching math and history at my former high school.
Removing some of the financial burden of college relieved a lot of stress.
My son Alejandro is the type of kid that never needed any prodding to study or do his homework. He always brought home straight A’s despite playing baseball and working part-time. Still, the idea of sending him to college was nerve-wracking, because I didn’t have a college savings plan set up. Him getting this scholarship really helped to put me at ease. Alejandro received $5,000 toward his tuition all four years he attended the University of Iowa. He began working as an actuarial analyst last year and I couldn’t be prouder.