When scholarship recipients meet the women and men who make their scholarships possible, they discuss the gift of education. That’s what happened recently when 75 Stonehill students got together with 100 benefactors at the Annual Scholarship Dinner in the Pettit Atrium on Sunday, April 7.
The students heard first-hand from alumni and friends on why they value and support student scholarships. At the same time, benefactors heard from students about their classes, internships, study abroad experiences, and career goals. Now in its 15th year, the Dinner has a track record for building close and long-lasting ties between benefactors and students.
At the event, Neuroscience major, Otilia Monteiro ’19 and Marketing and Graphic Design major, Stephen Vercollone ’19 described how scholarships have helped them to fulfill their educational dreams.
Appreciating the access that scholarships provide, Otilia Monteiro noted two “incredible” experiences she has had at the College, the first of which was a H.O.P.E. service immersion program and the other was Camp Shriver.
Monteiro led the H.O.P.E. immersion experience in the Dominican Republic this spring break. She says that there, “we served alongside community members learning about women's initiatives and microbusinesses, as well as working to provide access to clean water to homes within the community.”
Her other experience was an internship last summer with Stonehill's Camp Shriver, which is “an amazing sports camp that promotes inclusion by opening it to children with and without physical and developmental disabilities in the surrounding communities. The opportunities I've had and the programs I've been involved with are not unique to Stonehill, but other schools, in my opinion, don't do it as well as Stonehill does.”
Addressing the benefactors, Monteiro said, “Being able to carry those experiences with me is something that I'm incredibly grateful for, and that is only possible because of donors like yourselves. So, thank you for your generosity, for providing students like myself access to quality education, helping to fulfill our dreams and for showing just how impactful education is, so that we may share in that same tradition."
In his remarks, Stephen Vercollone, a double major in marketing and graphic design, explained that receiving the Robert J. Mills Memorial Scholarship has motivated him to take full advantage of everything a Stonehill education has to offer.
“As well as playing soccer and running track, I double major in marketing and graphic design; I am a Resident Assistant and the PR chair of the Student Alumni Association. While I’m active in the Stonehill community now, the generosity of benefactors has showed me how to be a good alum, and I am looking to forward to being involved with Stonehill after I graduate. And who knows, I may be back here as a benefactor,” he said.
“The real world is just six weeks away, but I am confident that this gift of an education has prepared me well to pursue my career goal of working in the footwear industry. Thank you again to all the benefactors here tonight. You're gifting us more than just a scholarship; you're gifting us an education,” he added.
In her remarks, benefactor and trustee, Elizabeth Hayden ’76 addressed the connection between those who desire to give and those who receive with deep gratitude.
“As donors we give, but we receive so much in return. We are given the pleasure of seeing amazing young people, working hard through their studies and their service to build a better future for themselves and our world. The relationship between donors and scholars is symbiotic: we both give and we both receive. Together we live the words of St. Francis, ‘It is in giving, we receive,’” said Hayden who met her late husband James when they were students.
When they were students, the College’s tag line was The Making of A Person and for them it became “the platform for the making of a family, instilled with the values of caring for one another and the world beyond us. We felt blessed, we felt golden in the sunshine,” she said.
Then on September 11th, 2001, James Hayden '76 was killed by terrorists when United Flight 175, was flown into the second Tower of the World Trade Center.
“My daughter, Liz was just beginning her first full week of classes as a sophomore here at Stonehill. My son was a senior in high school. My thoughts were immediately of my children. How would we ever get through this inconceivable nightmare?,” recalled Hayden who adds that Stonehill and the Holy Cross Congregation came to the rescue.
Outpouring of Love
“They were there from the earliest moments to guide us, to meet the needs we were just beginning to assess for ourselves. They took us in hand and guided us through dark days. Those early days were extremely hard. While my family and I suffered with an unbearable loss, we were blessed with a united world where Stonehill was at the center. They helped shoulder our grief with an outpouring of love and compassion,” she explained.
“But you know this. This is Stonehill. It is in the DNA of this great institution. This is a community founded on the core belief of caring for one another, to reach out to those in need, to be of service and to work for a more just and compassionate society. At Stonehill, you get far more than education, you have the opportunity to Become a Person,” she added.
In response, Hayden, along with her son and daughter refused to be negative and they decided to reach out to those in need at Stonehill and beyond.
“We wanted to share our many blessings with students through programs and scholarships in memory of my husband. We believe that Stonehill students should not only receive a stellar academic education, but should have the opportunity to become extraordinary people filled with passion and purpose, to find meaning in their lives, and to become beacons of light and hope for others,” she said.