Scholarship's Power is Clearly Visible
by Matt Getty
June 29, 2010
Qichan Qian ’12 (left), a French and economics double major from Beijing, discusses her future plans with Warren English and the Honorable Rosalyn K. Robinson ’68, emeritus trustee, who established The Rosalyn K. Robinson Scholarship.
Oswaldo Aguirre '06 came to celebrate one that took him to New Orleans to help Hurricane Katrina victims. Kelly Rogers ’10 came to celebrate one that brought her to Copenhagen for a United Nations conference on climate change. Lee Tankle ’10 came to celebrate one that helped him meet two U.S. presidents as he prepared for his own career in politics. These were just three of the more than 240 students, alumni, parents and friends of the college who gathered at the 2010 Donor-Scholar Luncheon in April to celebrate scholarships and their impact beyond Dickinson.
Aguirre, one of the luncheon’s featured speakers, told attendees how the scholarship that brought him to Dickinson helped him discover his passion for public health. Without it, he explained, he never would have considered Dickinson. With it, he was able to participate in the Hurricane Katrina relief missions that inspired him to pursue a medical career.
“Dickinson just gives you so much, and you have opportunities to grow that I don’t think typical students at other colleges have,” said Aguirre, now in his first year at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. “None of my friends from other colleges can say they did three Katrina relief trips. They haven’t had the opportunities to really participate on the ground.”
Like Aguirre, Rogers sees her scholarship as life-changing. “If I didn’t have this scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to come here, and I think [coming here] is the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” she said. In addition to her coursework as a policy-management major, Rogers interned with Pennsylvania’s first lady and federal judge Marjorie Rendell and traveled to Copenhagen to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December.
“That was the biggest indicator that—wow—this education is something I will be able to use to make the change I want to see,” said Rogers, who will begin pursuing a master’s degree at Brown University’s Taubman Center for Public Policy this fall.
Though Tankle wasn’t able to meet the donors behind his scholarship, he wants to assure them that, like Rogers, he’s using the funds to do more than just better himself. “I’m doing my best to put their money to good use and lead not only a scholarly life but also an honorable life, where I can take what I’ve learned in the classroom and help the broader world,” said Tankle. The law & policy major who hopes to run for public office one day has honed his political skills in Dickinson’s Semester in Washington program (which gave him the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama last spring) and as president of Student Senate (which enabled him to meet Bill Clinton when the former president came to campus in 2008).
In addition to bringing together donors and grateful scholarship recipients like Aguirre, Rogers and Tankle, the annual luncheon featured comments from Sandia Foundation chairman Rod Pera ’62 and President William G. Durden ’71 on the importance of scholarship donors. Pera shared the story of Hugh and Helen Kisner Woodward, both class of 1908, who founded the Sandia Foundation, which has provided Dickinson more than $30 million in scholarship funding during the last 40 years.
The Woodwards, said Pera, established the foundation, which also supports the University of New Mexico, in large part because their Dickinson educations taught them the importance of philanthropy. “Their Dickinson experience gave them the perspective to understand how important education is and the gratitude to want to give back,” he said. “Wherever you go for the rest of your life, Dickinson stays with you. … It stayed with the Woodwards, and we at the Sandia Foundation hope it stays with you.”
Durden reported that, since the start of the First in America campaign, alumni, parents and friends of the college have provided $33 million in scholarship support, creating 70 endowed scholarship funds, which are increasingly vital given the rising cost of higher education.
“It is especially heartening that, even in these difficult economic times, our donors are willing to make personal sacrifices by continuing their support so that Dickinson will be affordable for all who desire and deserve it,” said Durden. “While it is clear that you understand the importance of offering the opportunity of a Dickinson education to deserving students, it is still difficult for us to express adequately our appreciation for your generosity.”
Watch a video of scholars discussing the impact of their scholarships.