Matt Brown was stunned when he learned what the senior class gift would be this year: A scholarship bearing his name.
“When it came up in our legacy committee meeting, everyone was really shocked that we hadn’t thought of that sooner and it was something we all agreed on instantly,” senior Erin Carberry, co-chair of the committee said. “We were really nervous at first to ask his opinion and permission, but he was so grateful and honored and we knew this was what we had to do.”
“When Cody and Erin told me about it, I was speechless, and so humbled by it,” Brown said.
Cody Page ‘16 is the other co-chair. Page and Carberry had approached Brown about the idea prior to Christmas break.
More than 75 seniors packed into Brother Mike’s Jan. 21 to learn what the senior gift would be this year.
The Stonehill Legacy Committee revealed the Matt Brown '16 Perseverance Scholarship as their senior class gift, in honor of their fellow classmate, acknowledging his spirit, strength and ability that have inspired the Stonehill community.
“Matt has meant a lot to Stonehill, particularly to his class,” said Nick Howard ‘13, faculty coordinator for the committee. “I remember the excitement around campus when he was coming in as a freshman; Stonehill would not be the same if he was not here.
“When we presented the gift to our class, I obviously knew what it would be, but I was still so emotional about the reveal when Matt came out on stage,” Carberry said. “It was really moving and exciting to know that this idea we had in a classroom this past fall was coming to life. I truly hope this scholarship can help other people as spirited and determined as Matt to persevere and thrive through college at Stonehill.
As a sophomore in high school, Brown played hockey at Norwood High School. In a game against Weymouth High School, Brown was checked up against a board and suffered a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. Despite this tragedy, Brown has continued to remain positive and resilient since the injury.
Every year, the Legacy Committee comes together to raise money for a senior class gift to honor their education and experiences at Stonehill College.
“The committee wanted a gift that would really unify the class,” Howard said. “We wanted something that the class could really get behind.”
Over 70 seniors donated a total of $1,500 before the night’s end of the revealing. As of the end of the night, over a 100 seniors have made a donation to the gift, totaling to over $3,500 since the scholarship was created.
“At the event, the incentive to give a gift was to be entered into a raffle to win tickets for the 100 Days senior event, 50 Days senior event, and VIP tickets to commencement,” Howard said.
Those who donated to the scholarship will be invited to a champagne toast May 5 at Alumni Hall.
Brown called the Stonehill community his “family” and said he was very appreciative.
“I owe a big thanks to the Stonehill community,” Brown said. “When I was hurt, coming from a small town, my small community came together and supported me throughout. When I chose Stonehill, I did not know if I would receive that same feeling of support and togetherness – and I was definitely wrong about that.”
Once the scholarship is endowed, students will be able to apply for the scholarship. In order for a scholarship to be endowed, at least $25,000 must be raised. If the committee cannot meet that goal by the end of the year, the scholarship fund will remain active, and the Legacy Committee will continue to raise awareness and support until the endowment is reached.
“If this scholarship helps one family in need, helps one kid attend college, that would do it for me,” Brown said. “I almost crossed college off my list. It’s been the best four years of my life; if one kid experiences that, it’ll make all the difference.”
Brown said the Stonehill community was welcoming to him throughout his four years on campus.
“They see me as just Matt,” Brown said.
The class gift reveal also served as a great opportunity to kick off the last semester for the seniors.
“It’s definitely a great way to start off the beginning of the end,” said senior Alex Patturelli. “It’s times like this when you realize you have to enjoy the final moments you have left.”
“It’s a really good way to start the end of the last semester,” Love Boussiquot ‘16 said. “All of the things that we are thinking about as far as our future is concerned, this is a reminder that we are still here at school. We need to make the best of it.”
The class of 2016 was the biggest Stonehill class to date when they came in as first-year students.
“Our class is really big, so you think you don’t know and you realize everyone is interconnected with each other; I was sitting here earlier, and thought how connected and close we are as a class; no one is a stranger, and that’s a pretty amazing thing,” Boussiquot said. “Things could have gone differently if I wasn’t with these people.