It was Christmas Eve in the mid-1960s. Winter quarter at the U had ended two weeks earlier and U alum Boyce Yanik and his Sigma Nu fraternity brothers had celebrated the holidays with their Christmas formal and a Sub for Santa Party for a family of 12 children, organized by The Salt Lake Tribune for those in need. “With fifty dollars left over, we called the Trib to ask if there were others still on their list. By chance they had just received a call about a family new in the West Jordan area,” says Yanik.
Trying to find the house in a snow-covered West Jordan field (before the benefit of GPS) was challenging. But when they saw smoke in the distance coming from the chimney of a small house, they were encouraged. “The father greeted us in a language we didn’t understand and invited us into the warm one room house,” says Yanik. “Snow was melting above the windows and the floor was dirt covered with a piece of linoleum. We gave each of the two children a gift, the parents a ham for dinner, and the five-day-old baby a blanket for her white refurbished crib. And although we were unable to commu-nicate with words, I understood that this was Christmas for them and the smiles and joy on their faces were the best gift I have ever received.”
Yanik went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in communication from the U’s College of Humanities in 1966 and credits his Sigma Nu and U experiences for preparing him for his ensuing 30-year career in the field of education.
Fast forward to 2017 and you’ll find that same joy of giving still burning strong in Yanik. Now nearing his 75th birthday, he has been considering how he might make a difference for others. With the belief that “the life blood of any great nation is education, to which most problems and successes can be traced,” and with his lifelong devotion to his Sigma Nu fraternity, he decided to establish an endowed scholarship program as a way to defray educational costs for undergraduate students who are active Sigma Nu members— “for individuals who want to attend the university but are not easily able to include the fraternity experience that I hold close to my core,” he says.
Ethan Burkett, a senior in the U’s environmental and sustainability studies program, is the first recipient of the Yanik Scholarship. As a full-time student, with an unpaid internship, nine hours of LSAT classes each week, and serving as chair of Sigma Nu’s philanthropy efforts, “I am simply out of hours during the day to work a paid job,” he says. “This scholarship gives me the opportunity to have more time to put toward my commitments. Knowing someone out there believes in my ideals and is willing to help me is an incredible feeling.”
Yanik’s generous contribution establishes the first-ever endowed scholarship for students from a fraternity or sorority on the U campus and provides the gift of full in-state tuition for the fall and spring semester for up to three students who meet the criteria. The scholarship is administered by the U’s Office of the Dean of Students.
“The [Sigma Nu] fraternity creed, ‘Love, Honor, Truth,’ became a guide for my life,” says Yanik. “Like marriage and friendships, what one contributes will determine the gifts received.”
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