GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The last week has brought a scholastic and personal roller coaster ride for Parker Christensen.
“It’s been happy, sad, confused, mad. It’s been crazy,” the Newaygo High School senior said.
Christensen was one of the 58 students who were informed last week that they’d received the full ride Centralis Scholarship from Central Michigan University.
“I was so happy to tell family and friends. Everyone’s congratulating me. I was proud of my work and the hard work I put in to get this,” Christensen said.
The next day, the scholarship was gone.
“Completely disappeared. The email, the acceptance form. Everything was gone,” Christensen said.
CMU discovered that while testing a new messaging technology last week, a staffer inadvertently posted a message awarding the prestigious full ride scholarship to 58 students who were checking the university portal at the time.
The university later reached out to the students, telling them about the error and offering up an apology.
“…That was a deal breaker. Because pre-medicine, which I want to major in, is super expensive. And this full ride would have covered it. It could have been the next step in my career. I would have not had to worry about being in debt or anything,” Christensen said.
CMU offered to bump up another scholarship he had earned by $3,000, far less than what the Centralis award would have covered.
The Newaygo High School Senior carries dual enrollment, taking college classes in the morning and advancement placement honor classes at the high school later in the day. He does this while competing as a three-sport athlete and taking part in other extracurricular activities.
For Christensen, losing the scholarship was about more than losing the money.
“When you lose that, it’s like, you question yourself… like, was my work good enough? Am I smart enough to go into this career still?” Christensen said.
On Wednesday night, CMU reached out again, offering up the equivalent of what the Centralis covered academically, about $12,000 a year.
As for how much this will cost the university and where the money will come from, the school’s not taking any questions.
The 58 students who were originally notified they’d been awarded the Centralis Scholarship still must cover their room and board.
“It’s definitely better than what they had previously. Still nowhere near a full ride, but it’s definitely good,” Christensen said.
He’ll use other scholarships to come up with room and board and says he won’t let the setback derail his goals.
“I’m going to strive for what I want still,” Christensen said. “It makes me want to get it more.”
On Thursday evening, a CMU spokesman confirmed to News 8 that executive director of admissions Lee Furbeck was no longer employed by the university. CMU would not confirm if his departure had anything to do with the mistake.
Vice President of Student Recruitment and Retention Jennifer Dehaemers was tapped to take over for Furbeck.