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Toni Gjerkaj

Sterling Heights
Political Science

Scholarships give students the chance to know that someone believes in them and is making an investment in them — in their future.


Being a college student isn’t easy — especially if you’re the first in your family to give this whole college thing a try. 

As a first-generation student, Toni Gjerkaj had to navigate much of his collegiate experience on his own, from completing the college applications, financial forms and scholarship applications, to gathering what he would need for college and moving from Sterling Heights to campus.

At the time, Toni wasn’t sure what choosing SVSU might mean for him. He had received the Saginaw Valley Opportunity Grant (SVOG), a need-based scholarship that provides students up to $6,000 in aid each year, so coming to SVSU was a no-brainer.

Just a year from graduation, Toni can look back and see the impact his scholarships have had on his academic journey.  They have allowed him to spend the time he needed on academics and experiences that have helped him discern and crystallize his goals, rather than spending precious time earning money for tuition.

“Because of scholarship support from SVSU, I’ve been able to have a lot of opportunities to get involved. Scholarships also allowed me to put a lot of time into my academics.”

From the moment he started his college search, Toni thought he wanted to go into law. His experiences at SVSU, both in and outside of the classroom, have reinforced that desire.

“My relationships with my professors have definitely helped me hone my individual strengths and my focus. I really like juvenile justice and youth advocacy law, but I also found that I really like animal law. I find both interesting. I think that I’ve been able to discover that about myself with the help of my professors and their influence.”

Furthermore, Toni has pursued opportunities that have tested his interest in the law. He has not only served as president of the Law Club, competed on a moot court team and worked as a peer advocate and orientation leader, but also currently works as an intern in the SVSU General Counsel’s office. Toni has developed strong skills as a passionate public speaker and outstanding leader while at SVSU – skills that will serve him well as a professional.

From imagining the possibility of being the first in his family to attend college to being on the cusp of graduating, Toni has walked an inspiring path. He credits many experiences and individuals with having impacted his journey. While scholarships were instrumental in allowing Toni to pursue those experiences, he is keenly aware that the scholarship support he received symbolizes something greater than the financial impact. 

“Scholarships give students the chance to know that someone believes in them and is making an investment in them - in their future.”


Donor gifts to the General Scholarship and Unrestricted Funds support need-based scholarships like the SVOG scholarship that Toni received. Please invest in possibility at



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