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Former scholarship student finds his passion in philanthropy

By Danielle Corriveau

As an undergrad Jon Kraus vacillated between majors. First, he was focused on computers and technology. Then, he aimed at becoming a writer. Finally, he declared finance and marketing with an English minor. Yet, it was a letter from a couple he’d never met that led him toward his true professional passion.

In September 1998, two years before graduation, Jon learned he’d been selected as an Armstrong Scholar. He’d just been awarded $2,000, the first of two Armstrong grants he would receive. It was a pure gift, nothing that he’d applied for. He was stunned; complete strangers were helping fund his education.

In the center of the notice was an address. Jon immediately mailed a thank-you note to the donor. Jon’s parents also wrote notes of appreciation. The Armstrongs replied. Their pen pal relationship continued for two years. Much like lines on a paper map shifting from dotted to solid, those exchanges, along with the never-fading feeling of gratitude, moved Jon’s path from a winding byway to a steady highway. Today, Jon is director of development for DU’s Daniels College of Business.

“I honestly think it’s what steered me into philanthropy as a career. It made me want to be a part of connecting the donor, the school and the student.” Every day, Jon remembers the Armstrongs as he looks at a copy of his first note to them that is taped to his computer.

Although the Armstrongs have passed, their scholarship continues. At a recent Scholarship Breakfast, Jon approached a student searching for his donor. The student shared he was an Armstrong Scholar. Jon smiled at the synchronicity. He relived the awe of receiving the scholarship nearly 15 years earlier. That moment reaffirmed he was, indeed, pointed toward his true north.

If you want to learn more, please contact the office of
Donor Relations & Stewardship at 303.871.2699.

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