Scholarship students meet benefactors at Partners luncheon
A group of Radford University scholarship students had a rare opportunity last week to meet the benefactors who play a pivotal role in their education.
The Radford University Foundation brought the two groups together at its annual Partners in Excellence Luncheon, held this year on Feb. 14 in the new College of Business and Economics building.
"This has been so humbling and an awesome experience to meet them in person," said Olivia Hilton, recipient of the Nathan B. Marti Memorial Scholarship.
Hilton, a criminal justice major, met with Lindsay and Susan Marti, who established the scholarship to honor their brother and son, respectively, a criminal justice graduate from RU and aspiring police officer who died in a 2007 traffic accident.
"I've been battling tears the whole time just because his story is so close to home," Hilton said. "My brother is a police officer, and I followed him to Radford. Radford is close to my brother's heart and my heart."
In fall 2012, the Radford University Foundation gave $575,000 in scholarships to deserving students and expects to distribute $725,000 more in the current semester for a projected total of $1.3 million, up from $1.0 million for the previous year. Nine new scholarships were established this year.
"These donors and the gifts they have made tell us that they value what we are doing here at Radford University. They want to be part of providing a Radford University education to the students of today," President Penelope W. Kyle said at the luncheon. "Because of you—our donors, our benefactors—our important work can continue with the assurance that educational opportunities will always exist for these deserving young people."
Several students came forward at the luncheon to express their gratitude. Luis Grande, recipient of the StellarOne Athletic Scholarship, stood before the gathering to thank those who support his scholarship and all the donors who are making students' educational goals possible at Radford.
"This scholarship is an opportunity that people all over the world are looking for. Being a recipient of it has made me value every day, class, practice session, simply everything," said Grande, a native of Venezuela and player for RU Men's Soccer. "It has changed my life," he said. "It made me grow up and be more independent. It helped me acquire more intercultural knowledge. It is just a blessing from amazing people who are willing to give."
Senior James Jordan, who came to RU from London and also plays soccer, holds a scholarship from First Bank of Virginia. "The scholarship has helped me to get a great degree from a great school," Jordan said. "It has given me a lot of great opportunities. I love this school."
Jeff Irby, a senior vice president at First Bank in Radford, said his company believes in the importance of scholarships. "It's awfully important for the local businesses to give back to the university from which we benefit," Irby said.