HOPE Giving Circle awards inaugural $10,000 scholarship

Kayla KarbowskiKayla Karbowski considers herself pretty fortunate; after all, she’s found her calling at just 19 years old.

The second-year Harper College student has no doubt she’s meant to work with individuals who have special needs, a realization she came to over the past year working at the Northwest Special Recreation Association.

“The organization has shown me the difference I can make in a person’s life and the enjoyment I get from working with children and adults with special needs,” Karbowski, of Schaumburg, said. “To me, it doesn’t feel like working.”

Karbowski’s commitment to helping others – on top of a 4.0 GPA and induction to the Phi Theta Kappa honors society – made her the natural choice for the HOPE Giving Circle’s inaugural $10,000 scholarship.

The Harper College Educational Foundation recently formed the HOPE (Helping Others through the Power of Education) Giving Circle to connect charitable-minded women with a common goal of empowering women to reach their full potential. The program provides financial support, ongoing mentoring and leadership development for female students who are completing their final year at Harper and continuing on to a four-year college.

HOPE Giving Circle members recognized Karbowski on July 19 at a reception at Bridges of Poplar Creek Country Club in Hoffman Estates.

Once she graduates from Harper next spring, Karbowski plans to put the balance of the scholarship toward tuition at Illinois State University, where she hopes to double major in elementary and special education.

Kayla Karbowski with Kathy Gilmer and Linda Lang“This is a very substantial scholarship that makes a bachelor’s degree more accessible and affordable,” said Kathy Gilmer of the HOPE Scholarship Awards Committee.

Gilmer described the scholarship selection process as competitive. Karbowski, she said, rose to the top because of the passion for what she’s doing.

In addition to working part time at the NWSRA, Karbowski, who graduated from Schaumburg High School in 2015, dedicates every weekend to volunteering at Elite Stars, a special needs athletic and recreational program. She serves as a head ice skating coach and peer gymnastics coach, mostly to people with Down syndrome.

Karbowski also volunteers at the Almost Home Foundation, a local animal rescue organization.

The youngest of three children, Karbowski said the scholarship helps to ease a tremendous financial burden from her family.

“Now I can focus more on obtaining my education rather than figuring out how I’m going to pay for it,” she said.

Media contact:  Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159

Last Updated: 1/11/23