Parents and Families

Christopher Connolly

In 1985, a car accident changed the late Craig Neilsen’s life forever by injuring his cervical spinal cord, leaving him permanently paralyzed. Yet his injury never impeded his success in the real estate development, construction and gaming industries. Neilsen’s experiences ignited his passion to support scientific research and quality of life for people affected by spinal cord injuries, and in 2002, he launched the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Inspired by its founder, the Neilsen Foundation began the Neilsen Scholarship Program (NSP) in 2014 to help students with spinal cord injuries overcome obstacles to earning a college degree. Recently, the Foundation gave $457,000 to the University of Michigan, increasing opportunities for students with injuries like Neilsen’s.

“This generous gift supports our mission to create a more equitable and accessible campus for all students and serves as a commitment to improving the lives of those with spinal cord injuries,” said Vice President for Student Life E. Royster Harper.

Recognized by College Choice as the nation’s most disability-friendly university, U-M is intently focused on expanding accessibility in all dimensions.

The Neilsen Scholarship Program enables students with spinal cord injuries to receive affordable, quality educational opportunities. At U-M, the gift will cover tuition support and supplemental funding to defray the costs of housing, books, supplies, personal assistants, mobility equipment, childcare and more. Five students will receive funding during their tenure at U-M, including two undergraduate students in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA); two Medical School students; and a student earning a Doctorate of Administrative Nurse Leadership.

“Generous support from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation will help these students with spinal cord injuries flourish at Michigan without the pressure of extra costs associated with their disability,” said Dr. Stuart Segal, director of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

For Neilsen Scholar and medical student Chris Connolly, receiving the Neilsen Scholarship allowed him to focus on his dream of becoming a doctor.

I am profoundly grateful for their generosity,” said Connolly. “The Neilsen Scholarship has eased my transition to medical school and allowed me to focus on developing the skills and attributes of a dedicated physician instead of worrying about student debt.

Since 2013, the Neilsen Foundation has given over $4 million to multiple areas of the university, including the Medical School, Institute for Social Research, College of Engineering and School of Information.

Please view the photo gallery below to meet the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation scholarship recipients. The students include Paul Seyferth (top left), Maureen (Molly) Fausone (top middle), Lindsey Freysinger (top right), Kayla Blackburn (bottom left), and Christopher Connolly (bottom right).


To help Student Life continue making a difference in students’ lives, please consider making a gift.


September 2018 Newsletter

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