Medallion Program reaps benefits from sale of Sparky plates

As of June 30, the total number of ASU’s collegiate license plates was more than 16,000.

According to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division, 16,217 ASU license plates had been sold at the end of last month.

The plates, known as Sparky license plates, provide funding for the Medallion Scholars, a scholarship program run through the ASU Alumni Association.

Sparky plates cost drivers $25 and $17 of that fee is sent directly to the scholarship fund that currently aids more than 100 ASU students.

According to the Medallion Scholarship website, scholars receive four-year renewable scholarships worth $3,000 annually. But the scholarship is more than pure finances.

The Medallion website said the scholarship is a comprehensive program that “incorporates components of leadership, scholarship and service.”

Journalism senior Jordan Young agrees that the Medallion Scholarship is about more than just money.

“This is a real program vs. just a free scholarship that says ‘Here’s your money, go run with it,’” she said.

Young said the program’s meet once a week, work on group community service projects and engage in opportunities like broom ball games and banquets.

“Sure, it helps pay for education which makes a huge, huge difference,” Young said. “But for me, I was able to meet a news anchor in Los Angeles who went to Cronkite. It’s a benefit to establish these great connections.”

Speech and hearing sciences student Katelyn Parkos has been in the Medallion program since she arrived at ASU.

“The Medallion Program was the first way I was involved at ASU,” Parkos said. “Ever since the beginning it has been nonstop fun, working alongside some of my best friends to help out the community.”

Parkos said the opportunity to connect with leaders and alumni at ASU and around the country has been a great benefit to her.

“My personal favorite aspect of the Medallion Program, though, is the buddy system,” she said. “Freshmen are assigned to a sophomore buddy, who then acts as a mentor figure.”

Parkos said the presence of a mentor to guide her was a huge relief. She also added that the license plate milestone is a great benefit to the entire program.

“The incredible amount of Sparky plates sold has not only brought an immense amount of attention to the Medallion Scholarship Program but has also allowed for more students to benefit from the opportunities within the program,” Parkos said.

Dan Turbyfill, director of the Medallion Scholarship, said sales of the Sparky plates allows the program to provide more than just financial assistance.

“Reaching this milestone means it’s a significant contribution to our scholarship and this coming semester we are going to fund 112 scholars,” Turbyfill said.

Turbyfill said the program serves as a family environment for its members.

“This program is renewable for all four years so when a freshman starts with us I see them through to their graduation,” he said. “It can be intimidating coming into a large place like Arizona State as a freshman, and this is a very non-threatening environment. It’s social, it’s about community service and it helps develop long term relationships.”

Having that group support is a unique benefit to Medallion Scholars, Turbyfill said.

“It’s great that they have that support mechanism there to help them through their college experience and not everyone gets that,” he said.

Although the Sparky plates are sold through the Motor Vehicle Department, Turbyfill said the Medallion Scholars are involved in the marketing of the plates.

“We’ve worked with our marketing department to create the Sparky Plate Patrol, and they’re the face for the license plate,” he said. “They go out and talk about it.”

Reach the reporter at icbeck@asu.edu and follow him on Twitter @ICBeck21.