Dylan Hanshaw has always had a heart for service. The Ashland, Kentucky native logged more than 300 hours of community service before graduating from Boyd County High School in 2016. It is that drive to help others that led him to aid Dr. Lara Vance, director of the Student Success Center (SSC), in the creation of the Student Assistance Fund for Eastern (SAFE).
A combined initiative from the Student Success Center (SSC) and the Office of Retention and Graduation, SAFE provides short-term financial help to students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses in the wake of crises like COVID-19. The idea for such a fund has been gaining traction for a while, and Hanshaw, Vance said, was instrumental in the process.
“With student input like Dylan’s, we developed a process that was not only student-centered but compassionate and empowering,” said Vance.
Students who apply for the SAFE program remain anonymous beyond the selection committee, and receive help with tasks like filing for unemployment.
The junior criminal justice major’s contributions were heavily informed by his own financial struggles. Before accepting a position as a corrections officer in Fayette County, he said, “money was always a struggle.” He met Vance shortly after starting at EKU through regular visits to the Student Success Center, and she often helped him explore funding options.
“Dr. Lara Vance was always there for me, no matter the cost,” Hanshaw recalled. “I remember many times I sat in her office at the SSC with little left in me and plans that wouldn’t work. Little did I know she had an answer for everything, and if she didn’t, she knew someone that could help me. She has the biggest heart of anyone I know. I am indebted to her, and a few others, forever because of the impact they have had on me, and the man they have helped me become.”
In Vance’s view, students like Hanshaw are vital not only to projects like SAFE, but to the mission of the University.
“Dylan’s commitment to EKU is incredible,” she said. “To students like Dylan, EKU is more than a university; it is his community and support network, and he now sees himself as part of that support system for others. When students help each other, EKU becomes stronger.”
To learn more about SAFE or make a gift, visit development.eku.edu/safe