The 15th Annual Celebration of Scholarships filled the Dining Center with warm conversation, genuine appreciation, and mutual admiration as donors to Haverford’s 291 endowed scholarship funds enjoyed lunch with the student scholars who benefit.
“You are partners in the great adventure of education,” said President Kim Benston. In welcoming the guests, he noted that many of the scholarships donors “were themselves recipients and beneficiaries of other people’s help, and so that sense of paying it forward and understanding the ongoing responsibility and joy of creating a legacy of transformative young people is part of their work—not just to make this College better, but ultimately to make the world a better place,” he added.
Scholarship donor Ted Love ’81, echoed this message. “I came here in 1977 from a family of 10… so it was a very limited background,” he said. “When I got to Haverford—and the only reason I got to Haverford was financial aid—it really opened a completely new world to me. It set forth opportunities and paths that, quite frankly, someone from my background could never have even imagined existed.” Love is CEO of Global Blood Therapies, a biotech firm pioneering an experimental drug treatment for sickle cell disease.
Love also discussed the motivations and rewards of endowing a scholarship at Haverford. “Intelligence, capacity, and passion to change the world is likely equally distributed across all groups, but opportunity is not. What I learned here at Haverford is how to take on topics, understand those, and innovate.” He urged students to “choose your own mission and get out there and do it.”
The recipient of the Roger Lane Scholarship, Cecilia Zhou ’19, spoke of the day, exactly 15 years before, that she and her mother immigrated from China to San Francisco seeking a better life. Hard work and scholarships have enabled the chemistry major to prepare for medical school and a career in neurosurgery, and her gratitude was heartfelt. “With the Roger Lane Scholarship, I have been given rare experiences and opportunities at Haverford to advance my future,” she said. “I know that I can advocate for a career that I want. I will have the means to give back to my family, to organizations that have helped me, and to students with backgrounds similar to mine.”
Zhou’s thanks were powerful and direct. “To Roger Lane, Marjorie Merklin, and the numerous other scholarship donors, thank you. Thank you for investing in the education and potential of students like myself. Thank you for changing the lives of students who currently thrive at Haverford.”
The Sondra Lee Spar International Student scholar, Trevor Esilu ’21, explained that “the financial barrier that existed between my family and Haverford was much greater than anything we could ever overcome alone. Everything that Haverford had to offer–the community, educational freedom, Pinwheel Day!” depended on receiving financial aid.
In addition to thanking Elon Spar ’83, the donor whose scholarship honors his mother, Esilu thanked his own mother in Uganda via video and shared one of her most important teachings. “We are blessed so that we may become a blessing to others,” he said. “To receive, and then to give. You, the creators of these important scholarships, used the skills and opportunities that you acquired at Haverford to develop yourselves. And with those opportunities, you gave us, the scholarship recipients, a chance to seek our own paths on the very same campus. I cannot speak for all the scholarship recipients, but I have a strong feeling that many of us hope to emulate the generosity you have shown us, and become blessings to others.”
During the 2017-18 academic year, 53 percent of students received some form of financial aid and 289 students benefited from endowed scholarships. Generations of donors applaud their successes every year.
Photos by Wanyi Yang ’20.