The Last Hurdle

Connor Rowan has always liked science and helping people, so he decided to go into medicine. He spent high school checking the boxes he needed to get into college, the first step in accomplishing his dream. Connor had the grades, community service hours and extra-curricular activities, like the National Honor Society and Student Council, he needed to get into the College of Pharmacy at Ohio Northern University.

One hurdle remained: paying for tuition.

Connor’s dad, Barton F. Barnes, Jr., has been a member of Franklin, Pennsylvania, Lodge No. 110 since 1987. In May 2008, he experienced medical issues that left him legally blind. Barton had to stop working and his wife, Shelley, became the sole financial provider for their family. Before they knew it, it was time to put through kids through college.

“As a parent, I believe that one of my many jobs is to provide opportunities for my children to be better off than myself,” Barton shares. “Some of those opportunities have been lost.”

Connor was worried his hours spent studying, volunteering and working would be for nothing if he couldn’t afford college.

The Elks National Foundation helped Connor soar over this financial hurdle by accepting his application for an Emergency Educational Grant, provided for children of deceased or totally disabled Elks in the form of renewable, one-year grants of up to $4,000. “The Emergency Education Grant helped me get involved in my college community and allowed me to focus on academics rather than how I would pay for my education,” Connor says. “Without a shred of doubt, I’ve been able to grow as a student and person because of the relief from the grant.”

The only box Connor had left to check during college was creating a fruitful undergraduate experience that he could be proud of, and he has. He’s a leader in the Greek community through his fraternity, Phi Mu Delta, a member of the student government’s cabinet and former Costco Wholesale pharmacy intern.

“I’m grateful that this grant afforded me opportunities to join professional organizations and development a network for a successful future,” Connor says.

Connor’s hard work and accomplishments didn’t go unnoticed. Toward the end of his junior year, he was given the DeBow Freed Award for Outstanding Leadership as an Undergraduate, an award that recognizes one male and one female for their stand-out leadership at Ohio Northern University.

“I didn’t think that anyone saw how I involved I was on campus,” Connor shares. “When I was announced as last year’s recipient, I felt so humbled that my service to the campus community was recognized by people that really matter to me.”

Upon graduation, Connor hopes to continue serving communities across the nation when he joins the Elks. Not only does he want to give back through service, but Connor wants to give back to the Elks for being there for him and his family when they needed it most.

“I hope to help people in similar situations as me through the Elks,” Connor says. “My fraternity has a strong emphasis on helping the people that come after us, so this seems like an excellent way to do that.”

For 2019-20, the Elks National Foundation allocated $288,210 to fund the Emergency Educational Grant program for children of deceased or totally disabled Elks. If you know any Elks children who may be eligible to receive an Emergency Educational Grant, encourage them to visit for information, including eligibility and deadlines.

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