International students offered financial aid through Kent State alumni scholarship


Brigitta Hanzely (left) stands with Stephen Hanzely (right) for a photo on Kent State’s Kent campus in the spring of 1961.

Zoë Blank Reporter

An alumni couple is giving back to Kent State through an international student scholarship to honor international student advocates and mentors.

The Dr. W. Leslie Garnett International Student Scholarship was established by Kent State alumni Stephen and Brigitta Hanzely in honor of the late Wilma Leslie Garnett.

The Garnett International Student Scholarship awards up to $2,000 which can be used for two semesters, and applicants must be international students studying at Kent State.  

Awards are based on academic merit and financial need. Applicants must be enrolled full-time. Students can apply online before March 15. The couple has also made endowments for international student scholarships at Youngstown State and Mexico State University.

Kent State University is largely responsible for their successful careers and marriage, the couple said, and they want to give back. The struggles they experienced as international students along with inspiration from Garnett made the couple want to establish a scholarship for international students.

The Hanzelys were Hungarian refugee students when they met at Kent State in 1959 and graduated together in 1962. 

Stephen Hanzely studied engineering and physics and went on to teach physics and astronomy for 39 years at Youngstown State University. Brigitta Hanzely studied education and after years of teaching became a stay-at-home mother and wife.

As international students, the Hanzelys spent lots of time at the then-Center for International Students, where they met Wilma Leslie Garnett, an English professor and long-time coordinator of international student programs. Garnett was an advocate and mentor for international students, the Hanzelys said. 

“The International Student Center was a home away from home for us,” Stephen Hanzely said. “We looked forward to going there because we knew that we would find a familiar face in Dr. Garnett.”

The Hanzelys want to share the value of philanthropy with other alumni, especially former international students, and encourage them to give back to their alma mater. 

“It is a good place to put your money because universities are always in need of funding,” Brigitta Hanzely said. “It’s an investment in the future, and we can’t think of a better investment than one in the next generation.”

Zoë Blank covers alumni. Contact her at [email protected]