FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The University of Saint Francis believes that acts of kindness make the world a better place.

WANE 15 and USF are teaming up once again for the Pay it Forward Scholarship. The full tuition and fees scholarship is awarded to one student who demonstrates what it means to pay it forward and improve lives and communities.

To be considered, students must fill out an application and write an essay explaining how they’ve paid it forward in their own communities.

Mary Jones won the Pay it Forward Scholarship in 2021. When she was senior at Adams Central, WANE 15 highlighted her passionate work fundraising for Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) and placing them around her community. She’s currently working to get two more added to public pools in her area.

Jones says she was initially wary of applying for the scholarship, thinking her countless service projects weren’t strong enough to win. After some encouragement from her mom, she applied, wrote the essay, and ultimately won the full scholarship.

“You don’t have to have a massive service project, a massive mission, nothing is too small or unworthy of a scholarship,” she said. “My best advice is even if you have an inkling of ‘hey I want to fill this out or maybe I want to go to Saint Francis’ and you know that you might have the opportunity, to fill it out either way. Just thinking if I made the decision to say ‘no, my work probably isn’t quite worth a scholarship or I wasn’t planning on going to Saint Francis so I don’t want to waste my time with the scholarship,’ I would not have all the opportunities that I have now.”

Adams Central senior Mary Jones receives the Pay It Forward Scholarship to the University of Saint Francis on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. She is pictured with WANE 15 anchor Emily Dwire.

Jones is taking a gap year as she serves a one-year term as a State Officer for Indiana FFA. During that time she’ll travel around the state advocating for agriculture education and Indiana FFA.

That means she’ll be on campus as a freshman in the fall of 2023. She’s thankful to USF for holding her Pay it Forward scholarship for a year, as well as a golf scholarship.

“The fact that they have been so supportive and so thoughtful and supportive of me doing this as a State Officer for the next year while still providing me with all the resources when I come back, I don’t think there’s many other colleges that I would find that at and I think that’s what makes Saint Francis so special.”

This is the 6th year USF is awarding the Pay it Forward scholarship worth about $135,000 over four years. Two students will also half tuition and fees scholarships.

More information about eligibility, requirements and important dates can be found HERE.

The half-tuition scholarship winners from 2021: