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A University of Northern Colorado graduate donated $5 million to an institute she founded to serve and empower women at the university.

Ronda Stryker, a Kalamazoo, Michigan, resident who earned bachelor’s degrees in 1976, gave the money for the Stryker Institute for Leadership Development, a nearly 20-year-old scholarship program that supports women and transgender women from underrepresented groups, according to a release from the university.

The program provides access to educational opportunities focused on identity development, social justice, leadership and mentorship; cultivating a sense of belonging through connectedness and community; empowering women through encouragement and facilitation of personal growth; and establishing a network of support through collaboration with campus and community partners.

“Such generosity from UNC graduates like Ronda Stryker enables students to be more successful in their academic careers at UNC and beyond,” university president Andy Feinstein said in the release. “We are very grateful for our donors as their investments allow UNC to offer impactful programs like the Stryker Institute which have a significant impact on our students.”

This year’s cohort is comprised of 80 students, 37 of whom will graduate this year from numerous areas of study. The institute has served and supported a total of 476 undergraduate and graduate women since it started. Eighty-one percent of all students served by the institute graduate within three years of entering the program, and 94% graduate within four years of entering the program.

Participants in the institute also receive a $7,500 annual educational scholarship that covers their tuition and is renewable for up to four academic years with maintained eligibility in fall and spring semesters.

“As a very recent graduate, I’ve learned so much through the Stryker Institute: new concepts and ideas about justice and inclusiveness,” said Rosemarie Alarcon, a 2020 graduate in human services with a criminal justice minor. “This program has given me a sense of comfort and community over the last three years, and I’ve made lifelong friends and mentors that I will forever cherish.”

Yvette Lucero-Nguyen, the director of the institute, said students value the experience through the institute where they develop leadership skills and a community with other members.

“Because the program runs on a cohort model, student scholars who have four years at UNC also have four years of being involved with other women and transwomen students in the institute who have both similar and different identities and experiences in which they can build on and overcome challenges together,” Lucero-Nguyen said.

This content was originally published here.