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Meet the Recipients of the Alumni Association Scholarship

Legacy students share how both their parents and the scholarship have enhanced their AU experience.

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CJ Kula, Judah Featherman, and Maya Lerner pose in headshots

AU defines a legacy student as a student whose parent or grandparent holds a degree from the university. For many of these students, their parents’ AU experiences play a significant role in their decisions to attend AU.

For CJ Kula, CAS/BA ’25, it was their father, Stanley Kula, SPA/BA ’90. “The first time I got to tour campus with him was such an influential memory for me,” says CJ. “We are alike in so many ways, so it was inevitable that I fell in love with the same college he did.”

Every year, the American University Alumni Association awards the Alumni Association Scholarship to an incoming first-year legacy student. The $5,000 scholarship is renewable for up to four years and supports students with the cost of attendance. Recipients are selected based on academic records, involvement in leadership and community service activities, and demonstrated financial need.

CJ is a first-year student at AU and the 2021 recipient of the Alumni Association Scholarship. “This scholarship is really important to me because even though I am following in my dad's footsteps, I am also forging my own path in life, and AU has so many opportunities that can help me do that,” says CJ.

Judah Featherman, CAS/BA ’23, 2019 Alumni Association Scholarship recipient, says his mother, Natalie Knochenhauer, CAS/BA ’88, had a strong influence on his decision to attend AU. “Her active participation in anti-apartheid, LGBTQ+, and women’s liberation movements during her time at AU have always been sources of inspiration and strength for me,” says Judah. “Given this strong influence, I thought there was nowhere else I should go to college but American.”

Judah is excited to be back on campus this year to connect with his professors in person and perform with the AU Jazz Orchestra. He credits the Alumni Association Scholarship for his ability to attend AU and focus on his studies and passions. “Prior to being awarded the scholarship, I was very uncertain if I would be able to afford tuition at AU and had to seriously consider the possibility of going elsewhere,” says Judah.“However, winning the scholarship meant that I was able to come to AU without having to constantly worry about my financial situation.”

Maya Lerner, CAS/BS ’24, the 2020 scholarship recipient, knew AU was the right fit for her thanks to her mother, Dana Lerner, SPA/BA ’94. When speaking about her mother’s AU experience, Maya says, “She still remains best friends with a lot of her sorority sisters. Her stories, experience, and strong lifelong friendships helped me decide this was the place for me.”

When asked what receiving the scholarship means to her, Maya says, “It reminds me that all my hard work in high school, community service, and leadership was recognized. It also reinforces that, as a legacy, I have a responsibility to make my school proud and make the most of my time here at AU and in DC.”

Maya is studying health promotion and is on the pre-med track. Now back on campus after a year of virtual learning, Maya says, “I am most looking forward to being on campus for classes. Last year was very hard to be online, especially the science labs. I have amazing professors and I am so excited to be in the new science building. This was another reason I choose AU. When I'm in the labs, I feel very at home.”

The Alumni Association Scholarship is funded by an endowment created in 2008 to ensure its perpetuation. Private gifts and proceeds from the Alumni Audit program help support the endowment.

Know a legacy student who is applying to AU as a first-year student in fall 2022? Encourage them to apply for the Alumni Association Scholarship! Applications for new students will open in January 2022.