Partners in Excellence event unites scholarship recipients and their benefactors
"I am a graduate of Radford and darn proud of it!"
Those were the words of Karol Willis Hull ’62, benefactor of the Karol Willis Hull Scholarship for Carroll County, Virginia, Students, and special guest speaker at the Partners in Excellence Celebration. During the annual luncheon, held on Oct. 15 in the College of Business and Economics (COBE) building, scholarship recipients met their benefactors and personally thanked them for their support.
In her speech to the nearly 200 guests, Hull was able to succinctly stress the importance of every endowed scholarship.
"Without a scholarship, I could not have come to Radford," she said.
Brittany Willard, a junior elementary education major and the 2015-16 recipient of Hull’s benevolent award, spoke on behalf of this year’s scholarship recipients.
"Thank you for your generosity and trusting your gift to a total stranger," Willard said.
"Today we are celebrating you – the benefactors of more than 500 scholarship awards and your hard-working scholarship recipients," said President Penelope W. Kyle at the luncheon. "We are here today for many reasons. But the first reason is to say 'Thank you!' Thank you for caring about RU, thank you for caring about our students and thank you for your support."
Lena Gunville, a non-traditional student majoring in recreation, parks, and tourism and recipient of the A. Victor Thomas Recreation & Leisure Services Scholarship, said that the scholarship went beyond financial benefits.
"It's amazing, not only financially, but it's also touching knowing someone else is rooting for you to succeed," Gunville said.
It was not just the students who were excited about the opportunities offered by the luncheon, as scholarship benefactors also looked forward to being able to meet the recipients of their gifts.
"I am so excited to meet them," said Genevieve Johnson, benefactor of the A. Victor Thomas Recreation & Leisure Services Scholarship. "Their journeys are so inspiring."
The scholarship, which was established by Johnson’s late father, is awarded to students majoring in the field of recreation, parks and tourism.
"My father was such an outdoorsman. He always wanted to offer those who could not afford a vacation a way to enjoy the outdoors," Johnson explained.
The impact of every scholarship is as varied and as unique as the student receiving it. Some students stressed the important financial impact that each scholarship makes.
“My scholarship is the reason I am here,” said sophomore Tiffany Manning, a special education major and recipient of the Lena Rebecca Hash Memorial Scholarship. “I was short of money to be able to come back to Radford. The scholarship covered the amount I was short.”
For others, such as senior recreation, parks and tourism major Bianca Billings, the scholarship helps inspire them toward success.
"It was the motivation for me to do better. It helped keep me on track," she said.
Anne Brinkley, a junior criminal justice major, stated that the gifts help push her to succeed.
"I don't receive financial aid. So every grant and scholarship helps. And receiving one validates all of the hard work," Brinkley said.
Brinkley, a recipient of Nathan B. Marti Memorial Scholarship, met with Lindsay Marti, who established the scholarship to honor her brother, a criminal justice graduate from RU and aspiring police officer who died in a 2007 traffic accident.
"It is wonderful to meet people who are carrying on his legacy and share his same interests in helping people," Marti said.
For some students, such as sophomore Lizzie Kunde, the scholarships offered educational opportunities they would never have been able to experience otherwise.
"I will be able to study abroad in Finland," said Kunde, a music therapy major and recipient of the Bethany Lorraine Rooker Dance Scholarship.
"While there I will be able to study at a humanities college that specializes in dance and art therapy."
Troy and Clare Levison, benefactors of the Alliant Techsystems at RFAAP Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund, stressed the importance of events like the Partners in Excellence Celebration.
"It's great to meet the recipients. It is good to see that the money donated is going to a good cause - to help meet the needs of the student," Troy Levison said.
Brandon Dunford, a Spanish and religious studies major who was seated next to his benefactors, added "It's an investment in education. It shows that I have the support of others."