New scholarship focuses support on under-represented students

Champlin Park student chosen as first recipient of full, four-year scholarship

The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (CSE) announced today a four-year collaboration with Minneapolis-headquartered digital payment solution Sezzle that includes a $124,000 donation from Sezzle to fund a full, four-year scholarship to a deserving CSE undergraduate student. 

The program, which aims to identify high caliber students who may not be able to afford or complete school due to the financial burden, kicked off immediately with the first Sezzle Scholar being awarded this fall.

Jonathan Olaleye, a first-year University of Minnesota Honors Program student in the College of Science and Engineering and graduate of Champlin Park High School, was chosen as the inaugural Sezzle Scholar. During his high school years, Jonathan completed many Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes, was named a National Merit Commended Scholar, and graduated with Highest Honors. He was involved in student council service projects and the school’s Link Crew, which helps new students acclimate to the school. He’s also a budding entrepreneur who has designed websites, computer apps, and his own gaming system. Olaleye plans to major in computer science or computer engineering.

Sezzle will continue to fund a full, four-year scholarship for a new student each year.

Sezzle scholarship recipients are chosen based on an array of factors including diversity, merit, and financial need. The scholarship will cover the student’s cost of attendance at the University of Minnesota for four years, which includes tuition, books, and room/board. The Sezzle Scholars Program will follow each student through graduation to exhibit the impact and importance of action in supporting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Sezzle's connection to the University of Minnesota runs deep. Co-founders Charlie Youakim (MechEng '99, MBA '10), Paul Paradis (MBA '10), and Killian Brackey (studied computer science 2013-2017) are all University of Minnesota alumni. Co-founder Mia Bernad is currently pursuing her MBA in the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

The company’s donation is focused on funding under-represented and deserving students interested in data science, computer science, or computer engineering.

Sezzle founders
Sezzle was founded by Charlie Youakim (left) and Paul Paradis who are both University of Minnesota alumni. Credit: Sezzle

“Our goal in creating the Sezzle Scholars program is to do our part to solve a problem in the hopes that our actions will spur other technology partners to follow suit,” explained Sezzle’s CEO Charlie Youakim. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are areas of focus for Sezzle, and it is our belief that supporting underrepresented groups in the pursuit of a technological career will help solve a systemic problem, one graduate at a time.”

For this year’s Sezzle Scholar, the impact of the scholarship is clear.

“This is a big deal, not only for me, but for my family,” Olaleye said. “It removes so much stress associated with the financial side of college. There’s a lot of things that I want to do over the next few years and after I earn my degree. Not having to worry about money, in the way that I otherwise would have, lets me focus on those things. Right now, all I can be is extremely grateful and make the most of this opportunity.”

University leadership also agrees that industry support can make a difference.

“Support from our generous alumni and industry partners is what we need to make real change for our students,” said Mos Kaveh, dean of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering. “We hear from our students over and over about the impact that scholarships can have on their lives. We thank Sezzle for hearing their voices.”

The University will be responsible for selecting the award recipients each year according to specific award guidelines and eligibility criteria, all of which are subject to applicable University policies and the University Selection Administration section.

Students are eligible to be considered for the Sezzle Scholarship if they are a first-year, full-time undergraduate student in the University of Minnesota Twin Cities College of Science and Engineering studying toward a degree in the area of computer science, computer engineering, or data sciences. Candidates must be able to demonstrate financial need and preference will be given to students who are from Minnesota or reciprocity states. When possible, additional preference will be given to students who will enhance the diversity of the student body as described by the University. First-year students are automatically considered for scholarships and do not need to apply.

About Sezzle

Sezzle is a rapidly growing fintech company on a mission to financially empower the next generation. Sezzle’s payment platform increases the purchasing power for more than 1.4 million Active Consumers across the U.S. and Canada by offering interest-free installment plans at online stores and select in-store locations. Sezzle’s transparent, inclusive, and seamless payment option allows consumers to take control over their spending, be more responsible, and gain access to financial freedom. When consumers apply, approval is instant, and their credit scores are not negatively impacted. This increase in purchasing power for consumers leads to increased sales and basket sizes for the more than 16,000 Active Merchants that offer Sezzle in the U.S. and Canada. For more information visit