Our motivation

Gold Star Scholars is motivated to help families whose loved ones have paid the ultimate sacrifice.


Gold Star Scholars exists to help Gold Star Family members navigate the educational system
and to provide financial aid to ensure that family members whose loved one paid the ultimate sacrifice are being taken care of.

Makayla Ganczewski is the daughter of SGT Steven Ganczewski (Ski), an Army Ranger who waskilled in Balad, Iraq while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Makayla was only two years old at the time of her father’s death. She says she remembers her dad’s unique sense of humor and contagious laugh.

Makayla and her mother Rachel (SGT Ganczewski’s wife) now live in Michigan. Now in high school, she is beginning to explore her college options for a future career in anthropology. Unfortunately, navigating the eligibility requirements and regulations of state and Veterans Affair programs for Gold Star Scholars is not easy. Because SGT Ganczewski was not a Michigan resident at the time of his death, Makayla is not eligible for Michigan state benefits. They lived in New York at the time of her father’s death, but because Makayla is not a New York state resident she is not eligible for New York state benefits.


Gold Star Scholars is a 501(c)3 non profit.