My name is Allie Zuliani. I am a third-year college student and a member of the Zenie Foundation community. This is my story about how I became part of Zenie Foundation.
The first time I heard about the Zenie Foundation (ZF) was my sophomore year of high school. I was in the auditorium settling for a presentation by someone I had never heard of, a businessman named Ken Rapp. The auditorium was loud, and the kids seemed particularly rowdy that day. Leaving the presentation, I just remember having felt like I was dealt a reality check. And that reality was that college is expensive, like really really expensive.
This was my first exposure to the Zenie Foundation and my future coach and mentor, Ken Rapp. I didn’t hear about Zenie again until I was a senior and I was nominated by the administration at my high school to apply for the scholarship. This is when my journey with the Zenie Foundation truly began.
The Zenie Foundation is a community of students, coaches, and alumni with shared values and a common goal. Through generous scholarships given to students each year and one-on-one mentorship from coaches, the Zenie Foundation works to close the gap between a family’s financial contribution to their child’s education and the cost of attending college.
What makes ZF more than a scholarship, and what unites the Zenie Foundation community, is a shared goal of creating effective adults who will go on to build strong families, maintain strong values, and become leaders in society.
I figured this out rather quickly after opening the preliminary application. The application process as a whole is quite rigorous and its goal is to find students who share the values of the Zenie Foundation - who have great potential to become effective adults and to identify students who will become future leaders.
For me, being awarded the Zenie scholarship meant that I was able to attend the school I wanted to without digging myself too deeply into student debt. I learned that co-investment is a cornerstone of the Zenie Foundation and that they were looking to see this commitment in their applicants. There was the contribution of my parents, my school, and my own contribution that came from working throughout high school and now into college. When paired together with the Zenie Foundation’s contribution I had the freedom to choose the school I wanted to go to without fear that I would become another statistic in the student debt crisis. Will I graduate with some debt? Of course, I will, it’s almost impossible not to these days. But what makes Zenie more than a scholarship, is how I am taught to navigate not only that debt but also how to navigate this pivotal time in my life.
Ken Rapp is my ZF coach. We touch base at least once a semester to catch up, reflect, and discuss my college experience and life experiences thus far. The role that Ken plays as a mentor has been what’s made me feel connected to the ZF's values and goals. It was Ken who stressed co-investment to me and my family at the time of my application. It was Ken who has set an example for me as someone who creates opportunity for others and leads others successfully. The mentorship between coach and student is so valuable because it provides students with a stable adult figure who is not a parent, that is cheering you on and guiding you throughout your college experience. When you're sick of taking your parent’s advice, that’s when you have your coach there, cheerleading, guiding, and wisely advising you through wherever you are on your journey.
The Zenie Foundation allows students, and it has allowed me, to have the freedom to choose the college that I wanted and feel reassured knowing it is affordable through co-investment. It allows its students to start thinking about the kind of person they want to be early on and to steer their education and career in a direction that will allow them to leave that type of impact on the world. The mission of the Zenie foundation is multi-generational and lifelong, and it’s something that students, alumni, and coaches live every day - and it’s something I am so grateful to be a part of.