2021 Mary Vandewiele Leadership Award Recipient Announced


ANN ARBOR, MI, April 13, 2021 – The Joyce Ivy Foundation recently announced the names of eighty-two young women selected as 2021 Summer Scholars. From this group of Scholars, Sara Bizhani, a junior studying at Washtenaw International High School, has been selected to receive the 2021 Mary Vandewiele Leadership Award.

Mary Vandewiele, a Metro Detroit entrepreneur and advocate for women and their leadership development, established the Mary Vandewiele Leadership Award in 2013, and it is awarded annually to a Joyce Ivy Foundation Summer Scholar who demonstrates leadership, academic promise, and exceptional commitment to their school and home communities. Joyce Ivy Foundation Summer Scholars engage in both academic and leadership development during their summer program experiences at highly selective colleges and universities.

“The Joyce Ivy experience is about far more than just a scholarship to participate in a pre college summer program,” said Brittany Knight, Executive Director. “Our distinctive community of mentors, Mary Vandewiele chief among them, provides our Scholars with invaluable support, counsel, and friendship. We know that Sara will benefit from having an advocate like Mary in her corner. Sara, congratulations on being named the ninth recipient of the Mary Vandewiele Leadership Award!”

Sara Bizhani of Canton, Michigan is a junior studying at Washtenaw International High School. She is highly involved in her school and focuses on projects that improve the lives of others. She is on the board for WIHI’s Period Project chapter, which works to end stigma against menstruation while making products free and accessible for those in need. When schools closed due to the pandemic, Sara assisted in arranging virtual camp sessions for younger students. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, and she writes for the WIHI Opal student newspaper. Sara is a standout student with a 4.0 GPA. She plans to participate in a virtual program with Brown University this summer.

“The JIF community has been a great example of how education in the right hands changes lives,” said Mary Vandewiele. “Sara has demonstrated her passion for improving not only her own life, but the lives of others. Putting this educational opportunity in her hands will not only have a positive impact on others, but is one of the highest distinctions of a great leader.”

“It means so much to me to be named the recipient of the Mary Vandewiele Leadership Award and a Joyce Ivy Summer Scholar,” said Sara Bizhani. “I am beyond thrilled, delighted, and honored to become a part of such a welcoming and warm community that facilitates the success of young women. I know that this group will help me accomplish whatever I set my mind to. In the days since receiving these awards, my determination has accelerated and I want to prove myself to the world more than ever. Joyce Ivy saw me and what I was determined to do and recognized me as being a leader in my own way.”

About The Joyce Ivy Foundation

The Joyce Ivy Foundation seeks to provide exposure, encouragement, and financial assistance to young women who have the academic, intellectual, and leadership potential to attend the nation’s most selective institutions of higher education. Funding for the Joyce Ivy Foundation is provided by individuals, other foundations, and corporations. Since its founding in 2006, the Foundation has named 972 students from Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota as Joyce Ivy Scholars, providing scholarships for them to attend summer educational programs at partner college summer programs, and providing or leveraging $5.2 million in scholarship funding. For more information, please visit www.joyceivyfoundation.org or contact the Joyce Ivy Foundation at info@joyceivyfoundation.org or (734) 661-0229.