Senior and first-generation college student Madisyn Smith knew when looking at colleges that she wanted to stay close to home in Central Indiana and wanted to major in Pharmacy. After researching colleges, Butler University ended up being the perfect fit academically, but proved to be more of a challenge financially.

“I am paying for college completely through scholarships and loans, without any financial support from my family, ” Smith says. “Scholarships are critical for me.”

She received a Butler academic scholarship, which helped to cover the majority of her tuition costs. She also received assistance through the Butler Emergency Assistance Fund when her car broke down and she couldn’t get to her Pharmacy rotations. She owes all of that support to Butler’s Office of Financial Aid.

“I’ve been helped tremendously by the Office,” she says. “They have answered hundreds of my emails. And whenever they saw a scholarship they thought I’d qualify for, they’d email me and let me know that it was available.”

It’s that level of personalized attention that Madisyn says makes all the difference. And she’s found it not only in the Office of Financial Aid, but all across Butler’s campus.

When she got to the end of her third year of college, she realized that Pharmacy wasn’t something she thought she wanted to do for the rest of her life. After talking with Pharmacy faculty and other mentors across campus, she decided to change her major to Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Lacy School of Business.

“It was a very big change, but after receiving so much support, I decided I needed to follow my heart and choose what would make me happy long term.” Smith will graduate in May and hopes to use her degree to eventually pursue her dream of opening and running wedding and event venues.

Outside of academics, Madisyn has also been passionate about helping pave the way for future first-generation students at Butler. With the support of (former) Dean of Students Sally Click, Smith helped start BU First, a network of support to assist first-generation students with guidance and information to help them successfully navigate the college environment.

“For me, everything in college has been trial and error. There’s no one before me who’s made mistakes and could give me advice on how to avoid obstacles, so I hope that BU First can help all those who come after me,” says Smith. “But I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything. I’ve learned and grown so much, and that’s all thanks to the support I’ve had at Butler.”