On a sunny Saturday, with spring semester classes over and Haverfest gearing up outside, 300 students, alumni, and friends packed Founders Great Hall for the 14th Annual Celebration of Scholarships—a gathering that President Kim Benston described as “one of the most moving and meaningful events of the year.” Like so many Ford get-togethers, laughter and spirited conversations echoed through the room, but this day also highlighted the special relationships forged by donors with the students who benefit from the scholarships they have established.
Shruti Shibulal ’06, who traveled with her parents from India to attend the celebration, got the opportunity to have a long chat with Arjun Khandelwal ’17, the latest recipient of the Shibulal Family Scholarship. Speaking on behalf of donors, Shibulal described the Celebration of Scholarships as an event that is “all about hope, gratitude, and the joy of sharing.”
“My parents come from humble backgrounds,” Shibulal told the crowd. “My mother received her first scholarship of 25 rupees in the eighth grade. I am proof of how scholarships can change not just one life, but generations. Haverford is integral in my life. It trained me to be a collaborator and manager. Friends and classmates inspired me to think about changing the world. As Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world,’ ” she concluded.
Having corresponded and met several times before, Fred Sanford ’62 and scholarship recipient Jenny Ahn ’17 enjoyed visiting again over lunch. Sanford endowed the Mary Sharpless Sanford Scholarship in memory of his wife shortly after her death in 2002. She had begun visiting Haverford during his student days and always looked forward to returning. “As we were leaving one of my reunions, Mary Jane said, ‘What an extraordinary group of people,’ ” recalled Sanford. “She felt just as strongly about Haverford as I do. I know she’d be pleased with this memorial, and very proud of the students who have held the scholarship. They’re also an extraordinary group of people.” Ahn, the fourth student to benefit from Sanford’s generosity, said, “I’m so grateful to have been named the Mary Sharpless Sanford Scholar for the past four years. It’s always a joy to catch up with Fred at the annual luncheon. I think Haverford alums are especially genuine and kind-hearted individuals who give back to the community, helping to foster connections with current generations of students.”
Sanford has stayed in touch with all four scholarship recipients, and has come to enjoy an enduring friendship with Tim Ouellette ’13. After sending regular reports and thank-you messages, Ouellette recalls receiving a personal email reply that inspired him—and highlighted how much he and Sanford had in common. Sanford, retired after a long career as a physician, has been a key adviser to Ouellette as he embarks on a similar career path. The two also share an interest in Civil War history and have visited battlefields together. Ouellette was “beyond surprised” when Sanford offered to include him on two vacations with friends touring Europe. “This was incredibly generous, and I was honored to be introduced to Fred’s longtime friends,” said Ouellette. “Fred has helped me out tremendously as a mentor and a friend. When I was working on my master’s and had a last-minute housing problem, he welcomed me into his home without hesitation. Words can’t express my gratitude for his friendship and kindness.”
“Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to afford Haverford, or would have been shackled by debt and unable to continue my education,” Ouellette said. “Haverford offers a huge advantage in life, and it’s a privilege to know the person who shared that with me, and to call him my friend,” Ouellette concludes. In May, when Ouellette graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine, Sanford cheered his achievement at the commencement ceremony. “Of course I wanted to be there,” said Sanford. “I’m grateful that the scholarship has helped people succeed, and I’m proud of Tim. Mary Jane would have been delighted.”
Two student speakers at the Celebration of Scholarships highlighted not only the financial imperative of their aid packages, but also the personal encouragement and motivation their scholarships provided. The Robert J.F. 1961 and Margaret M. Brobyn Endowed Scholarship recipient Steve Niesobecki ’18 remembered the donor who recently passed away, noting that “Robert worked very hard to put himself through college. He believed it was crucial for students to contribute to their own education in this way. I imagine he must have known personally the potential students have to succeed despite difficult circumstances, and he acted to help realize this potential by endowing this scholarship.”
Niesobecki, who has worked as a house painter for the past five summers and in the College’s mailroom during the school year, also shared his father’s reaction when he was admitted to Haverford and offered a financial aid package that would make attending possible. “My father didn’t say anything when he read the letter, but I could tell that he was moved. This school’s generosity and its commitment to developing students’ potential have impacted many families the same way. It allows me and many others to see the world in terms of what can be done and what we can do to help, and to appreciate those who are doing their best to get by. No matter how dire and distant things seem, there are always people looking to help where they can.”
Amanda Jones ’17, the Jane and Solomon Lutnick Memorial Scholar, summarized the gratitude and deep sense of connection students feel toward their donors by saying, “Your continued support and generosity have such tremendous impact on the lives of Haverford students and demonstrate your love for this College. For all you do for a truly wonderful, one-of-a-kind community that has become my family and second home for these past four years, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Fast Facts on Financial Aid and Endowed Scholarships at Haverford
· The Thomas P. Cope Fund, established in 1842, is Haverford’s first permanently endowed scholarship. Today, 286 endowed scholarships help meet the financial needs of 305 qualified students (24 percent of the student body; 46 percent of aid recipients).
· For 2016-17, tuition and fees totaled $66,490. Approximately 56 percent of students received some form of financial aid, and 50 percent received a college grant; the average award was $40,014.
· Improving access and affordability is an essential goal of Lives That Speak: The Campaign for Haverford. Over $40 million has been raised for student aid.
· Many scholarships are founded in memory or honor of a loved one. Donors and their families receive regular reports on the stewardship of their funds and personal updates from the students who benefit.
· Scholarship endowments can be established with a minimum commitment of $100,000, funded by cash, securities, deferred gifts, and bequests. Gifts in any amount can be made to existing endowments.
Photo of students at the 14th Annual Celebration of Scholarships by Claire Chenyu Wang ’20.