About 220 University of Delaware scholarship students and the donors who made those scholarships possible gathered at Clayton Hall on Thursday, May 13, for the second annual Celebration of Scholarship reception and dinner.
The event is held to provide donors and scholarship recipients an opportunity to meet and to get to know one another better.
A video shown during the Celebration of Scholarship event is available at this website.
Gary Smith said he was thrilled to finally meet the recipients of the Raymond C. Smith Memorial Scholarship, a scholarship awarded in memory of his father, Raymond C. Smith, who taught for many years in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“My dad was so dedicated to the University that [the memorial scholarship] just made sense, so our whole family contributed to it,” Smith said. “When he passed away, it was just a way of trying to remember him and what he did for the University and also allow future students to take advantage of the education.”
When asked what he likes best about providing for a scholarship, Smith said, “This is actually my favorite part. It is great to meet the students involved. They started this event last year — before we would get a card or a letter saying ‘thank You,’ but you never really got to meet the students — and it just makes it a lot more personal, so that it gives you a real sense of what we’ve done.”
The recipients of Raymond C. Smith Memorial Scholarship, Lenna Hildebrand and Katy Zook, were equally excited to finally meet those who makes their scholarships possible. Hildebrand is sophomore and Zook is a senior, both in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Said Zook of the scholarship, “it means a lot. It means recognition, it means you can go study abroad, which is definitely a good thing.”
Hildebrand said the scholarship is great simply because it allows her to “come to school, being able to study here and to attend classes and get involved here at the University.”
Both Hildebrand and Zook said that they would “absolutely” give a scholarship similar to the one they received, should they find themselves in the position to do so one day.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell spoke before the dinner, saying he was in attendance in a dual role as a state official and as a member of a donor family.
As to the latter, Markell cited his mother Elaine Markell, and the scholarship named for his late father, the William Markell Scholarship, and acknowledged the scholarship recipient, Debra Starr, a student in the Lerner College of Business and Economics.
As governor, he said such scholarships are important because “we are trying to make Delaware’s economic climate better and better, and what that really means is having the best possible work force and the most talent we can possibly get.”
Markell said the students in attendance were there because they have accomplished something special. “We desperately want you to stay in Delaware and we will do everything we can to make sure there’s an economic climate in which there are good jobs so you can help build the state for years to come,” he said.
UD President Patrick Harker spoke on the importance of the students and the donors meeting face to face. “We want you to know the students who are putting your money to work. We want you to see exactly what you’re making possible. We want you to hear about their achievements, their experiences, their dreams and plans,” he said, adding, “And, frankly, we want you to hear a much-deserved ‘thank you.’”
Students Meredith Rubin, a junior in the College of Education and Public Policy and recipient of the David W. Baldt Scholarship, and Matt Sullenberger, a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, also spoke at the event.
Said Rubin, “I have been so incredibly lucky to have the support of the Delaware community to learn these life skills, form life-long friendships, and enrich my college experience. My appreciation for the thoughtful and selfless donors here tonight cannot be conveyed enough. Without the generous gifts made by the donors here tonight, I would have not been able to realize how much I have accomplished and what I have to look forward to.”
Sullenberger spoke about how he was excited to get accepted to the University of Delaware, but that “getting accepted isn’t always enough. Along with attending college comes a financial burden, which unfortunately, can prevent a lot of people from ever making it that far. I probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the help I’ve received from scholarships, especially the John Papen Memorial Scholarship, which has supported me for four years. Without financial assistance I would definitely be spending all my time working just to pay for tuition and stay in school, and I’d be missing out on all the other opportunities.”
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