Student applying online for a scholarship

Accounting for a scholarship to honor her father

Andrea Vallee Van Essen (BS Business Administration '79) created the Vallee Family Scholarship in memory of her dad who graduated from ASU with an accounting degree.

Andrea Vallee Van Essen followed in her father's footsteps when she enrolled in the undergraduate degree in accounting a decade after he earned his master's degree in the program. But while ASU remained their shared alma mater, the accountancy degree didn't.

Vallee Van Essen switched to general business administration and graduated in 1979. "I took a human resources class, and it fascinated me," she says. "I took as many human resources classes as possible in the program."

Attending football games became a family ritual as Vallee Van Essen worked on her bachelor's degree. Her enthusiasm for ASU didn't waver when she moved to North Carolina and Colorado during her 25-year career in HR. Before returning to the Valley in 2018, she would fly to Phoenix for every home game; following her father's death in 2006, she inherited his season tickets.

Vallee Van Essen still radiates ASU pride — from her Scottsdale home adorned with the maroon and gold flowers named after ASU's mascot, the Tecoma Sparky, to the Sparky flag flying over the garage.

tecoma sparky flowers

The Tecoma "Sparky" was created by a horticulturist and professor at the university.

Sparky flag

No wonder Vallee Van Essen considered an athletics scholarship when contemplating ways to give back to her alma mater. Only she kept thinking about how to honor her dad.

"We wanted to do something in his memory," Vallee Van Essen explains. He was an accounting student, so we decided to have a scholarship tied to the accounting department.

"My dad would love it. He was a CPA at heart. He owned a firm here in the Valley, and being a CPA has been his whole life, so he would love the idea that I did something in his memory that ties to accounting."

She created the Vallee Family Scholarship in 2017. Shortly after, Vallee Van Essen added it to her estate plan in a tax-advantaged way. By reserving a portion of her retirement account for the ASU scholarship fund, she protected her gift from taxes that her family would otherwise have to pay.

Andra Vallee Van Essen (BS Business Administration '79) holding an autographed ASU football

Andra Vallee Van Essen (BS Business Administration '79) won an autographed football at a W. P. Carey scholarship luncheon.

"I see it as a planning tool and a win-win," she says. ASU doesn't pay taxes on that money, and I wanted the scholarship to continue for my lifetime, my children's lifetime, and my grandchildren's. This scholarship will make that happen."

Scholarships also provide opportunities for people, regardless of who they are — promising international students, underrepresented and first-generation students, and scholars whose academic excellence merits additional recognition.

Every year, Vallee Van Essen selects from one of three qualifying W. P. Carey accounting students to receive help from the W. P. Carey School of Business Kay A. Faris Emergency Scholarship Fund. This scholarship aids students with unexpected situations affecting their finances. Plus, it doesn't need to be repaid and is available every semester — not just during the traditional scholarship application season.

"I enjoy staying involved in the scholarship this way," she says.

One year, Vallee Van Essen met one of her seven scholarship recipients. "I was excited I got to meet him," she says. "This leaves a lifetime legacy."

In retirement, Vallee Van Essen also enjoys fitness classes, card games, traveling with her husband, Doug, and visiting her grandkids in North Carolina. She also regularly gets together with her sorority sisters, especially when there's an ASU football game to watch.

"Travel constantly" is the retirement advice she gives fellow alums, as well as how she set up her scholarship. "The thing I love about my scholarship is that it goes on forever, so it will continue even after I'm long gone."

Andrea Vallee Van Essen and her husband, Doug

Andrea Vallee Van Essen (BS Business Administration '79) and her husband, Doug, travel often during their retirement.

Sparky flag

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