Bakal family gift supports access to internships

Giving students real-world experiences led Elon parents Scott Bakal and Beth Solomon P’21 to endow the Bakal Family Internship Scholarship. Support for scholarships and increasing access to internships and other Elon Experiences programs are top priorities of the Elon LEADS Campaign.

Elon parents Scott Bakal and Beth Solomon P’21 of Glencoe, Illinois, were inspired to endow the Bakal Family Internship Endowment to enable Elon students who struggle financially to participate in internships, a valuable contribution to a student’s professional development. Internships are one of the five Elon Experiences programs, along with undergraduate research, study abroad, leadership and service learning, that prepare students for success.

“We believe that giving a student who might not otherwise have the opportunity to travel or participate in an internship the ability to do something experimental is important,” Bakal said. “We hope to help more students take advantage of the full Elon experience.”

Support for endowed scholarships and increasing access to the Elon Experiences are two priorities of the Elon LEADS Campaign.

Bakal is a lawyer and partner in the Neal, Gerber and Eisenberg law firm in Chicago. Solomon is a lawyer and senior vice president at MetaBank. Bakal believes that internships are an important factor in the development of students on the path to successful careers.

“It’s good for young adults to gain experience in the professional world, outside the college campus,” he said.

Internships are an important component in building future success for students after graduation, said Tom Brinkley, director of the Student Professional Development Center at Elon. Internships are required for graduates in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business and School of Communications and strongly encouraged in other academic disciplines. In all, 88% of Elon graduates participate in at least one internship during their four years on campus. Students say internships help them develop a sense of professionalism, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and strengthen their oral and written communication skills.

“Internship scholarships are critically important for our students who require financial support in order to do a required internship. Many internships that are with non-profit organizations are unpaid or may be with companies located in high cost of living communities,” Brinkley said. “Every summer, 25 to 30 high-need students are awarded this grant, thanks to the generous support of Elon parents and friends.”

The costs associated with internships can be overwhelming. This is especially true for students working unpaid internships, which are common in nonprofit fields or in communications. In all, 43 percent of internships available for students annually are unpaid. In many cases that means students are responsible for purchasing appropriate clothing and paying for rent, meals and travel costs. Internship scholarships can be used to mitigate those costs.

“Thank you, Bakal family, for helping make internships accessible for Elon students who may otherwise lack the resources to participate in these incredible experiences,” Brinkley said.

Scott Bakal and Beth Solomon have twin daughters, Samantha ’21, who graduated in May, and Emily, along with a son, Ben. They have previously supported Elon Hillel with their gifts.

“It’s easy to give to Elon considering the wonderful experience it was for our daughter,” Bakal said. “Elon has been a perfect fit for her. What she gained at Elon substantially exceeded our expectations.”

Solomon agreed, adding, “We are so grateful to Elon for providing our daughter with a college experience that will equip her to participate fully in the workplace.  We hope to help other students experience the same benefits.”

About the Elon LEADS Campaign

With a $250 million goal, Elon LEADS is the largest campaign in the university’s history and will support four main funding priorities: scholarships for graduates the world needs, increase access to engaged learning opportunities such as study abroad, research and service learning, support for faculty and staff mentors who matter and Elon’s iconic campus. As of May 21, donors had contributed $212 million toward the goal.

Every gift to the university—including annual, endowment, capital, estate and other planned gifts—for any designation counts as a gift to the campaign, which will support students and strengthen Elon for generations to come. To learn more about how you can make an impact, visit