Save the date—Mary looks to break fundraising goal as it prepares for its second annual Giving Day event Thursday, Nov. 14

Alexa Leingang, center, hangs out with friends enjoying the fall day on campus.

BISMARCK, ND — Alexa Leingang’s aspirations of becoming an orthopedic surgeon began early in her teens. Having picked a career field well before graduating from high school could be considered a major triumph that doesn’t always come so easy for many her age. Once she had checked that box, it was on to answering the next most important question of her life: Where should she go to further her education and enroll in a pre-med program?

With really good grades her options were endless. However, being born and raised in Palmer, Alaska, Leingang already knew she would be traveling somewhere south to the lower 48. But, she wanted a Catholic school that met her criteria — a highly respected health care program and faculty, a welcoming community, and a thriving campus with a thirst for Christ. Family members who lived in the Mandan and Bismarck area suggested that she check out the University of Mary. After hours of researching the school online, Leingang applied and was later accepted. Then a week later, her life changed forever when she opened a letter that came to her Palmer home from the University of Mary, nearly 3,000 miles away.

“I sat there and had to reread the letter three separate times because I was in shock,” recalled Leingang of the Sister Thomas Welder Scholarship award letter she received from the University of Mary. “Then, being the little ball of excitement that I am, I snapped a picture of it and sent it to my parents, and two closest friends at the time. My mom called and congratulated me and I couldn’t keep the smile off my face. This scholarship was the leading factor determining if I would be able to attend UMary or not. My financial life would not have allowed me to be part of the University of Mary family had I not been awarded the scholarship.”

Hundreds of students like Leingang, who are currently attending the University of Mary, or those high school juniors and seniors now hoping to attend UMary to share in the same excitement, can do so thanks to public donations made on Giving Day, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. One hundred percent of on-campus students earn a scholarship every year at the University of Mary, making it one of the most affordable private Catholic universities in the United States.

“Your generosity has made it possible for me and individuals like me to attend the college of their dreams—and with less stress,” added Leingang. “I just want to make sure the University of Mary and its donors know that I am greatly appreciative of this award and will be praying for each of you, always. You allowed my dream education become a reality, and for that, I will be forever grateful.”

Alexa Leingang, left, chats with friends she met on University of Mary’s campus.

Last year, during its inaugural Giving Day event, the University of Mary surpassed its goal of $75,000 raised. This year, with that same financial goal in mind, there are three scholarships that people can specify for their donation: the Sister Thomas Welder Endowed Scholarship, the Monsignor James Shea Endowed Scholarship, and the Marauders Armada Athletics Scholarship.

The Sister Thomas Welder Endowed Scholarship and Monsignor James Shea Endowed Scholarship are both awarded to full-time undergraduate students for a maximum of eight semesters to those students with strong academic excellence. The Monsignor James Shea Scholarship also rewards students for their personal involvement in leadership and community.

As the primary fundraising arm for University of Mary Athletics, the Marauders Armada generates financial support for scholar-athletes through its athletic scholarships. Contributions from individuals, businesses and corporations are vital for the success of each athlete, each sport and the entire athletics program as it pursues its strategic plan — Greatness Through Virtue — in athletics at the University of Mary.

Leingang has five younger siblings in Palmer getting closer to making their college decision. She says some already have interest in attending the University of Mary like their big sister.

Learn more about University of Mary’s second annual Giving Day at