UNI awards full-ride scholarship to Cedar Rapids student who shines as leader, mentor

UNI awards full-ride scholarship to Cedar Rapids student who shines as leader, mentor

Elisabeth Soliz, Leslie Wilson, Landyn Mitvalsky, Cassie MitvalskyLandyn Mitvalsky, a senior at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, was named the 2024 Noel Scholar and will attend the Wilson College of Business at the University of Northern Iowa on a full-ride scholarship. The Noel Scholar program, now in its third year, covers all expenses including tuition and fees, housing, books, transportation and personal expenses, thanks to a generous donation from Rick (Accounting, ‘90) and Lisa Noel.

A recipient is chosen every year based on their dedication to learning and ability to achieve success despite facing difficult circumstances. The scholarship is renewable for three years.

“Having directly engaged with students for nearly 15 years, I can confidently affirm that the Noel Scholar program is one of the most thrilling and influential experiences within our college,” said Elisabeth Soliz, the director for the Office of Professional Distinction. “The impact of this scholarship is profound. It has the potential to offer a life-altering opportunity to a deserving student.”

Mitvalsky received the news during lunch hour at school. While leaving to grab a bite to eat, his mother, Cassie Mitvalsky, called him and told him to come back, which struck him as odd. He was greeted by a room filled with friends, school staff, and UNI staff, including Soliz, all cheering him on. He was taken aback.

I'm just extremely grateful,” Landyn said. “The scholarship takes a lot of pressure off my shoulders, and maybe I’ll have more time to do an internship or study abroad, which I might not have been able to do before. It changes a lot for me. I can just focus on being a student.

Cassie adopted Landyn when he was just 1 year old. Now Landyn is surrounded by three siblings, Tavius, Norah and Justus. Growing up, Landyn thrived in sports and emerged as a natural leader, a trait that translated to other parts of his life. Not only did he captain all three of his high school sports teams, but Landyn also participated in Leaders, Believers, and Achievers — a foundation that nurtures leadership skills in youth.

He also participated in the Black-led organization Mission of The Academy for Scholastic and Personal Success, spoke to younger students in the Mentors in Violence Prevention program, and mentored an elementary school kid in his neighborhood.

“I value myself as a leader, so a lot of my peers, coaches and teachers think of me when opportunities arise, and I’m more than happy to help out in my community,” Landyn said.

He wants to continue that spirit at the Wilson College of Business, where he plans to study marketing or business administration. He’s excited to get involved on campus as well, make new connections and enjoy college life.

Before finding out about the scholarship, Landyn visited UNI three times and had the school at the top of his list. Now he gets to enjoy it with a full ride.

“The more I talk to people about this, the more it sinks in,” Landyn said. “I’m excited to show just how grateful I am for this opportunity.”

Landyn Mitvalsky cheering
Landyn Mitvalsky with family