There were hugs and laughter as more than 100 students and donors gathered in the Wellness Center on Nov. 5 for Worcester State’s annual Scholarship Brunch. The brunch gives scholarship donors and recipients a chance to meet and build relationships.
“It’s a very special opportunity for students to tell their stories to the donors. And it helps our donors see the impact of what they’ve been able to do for our students,” Provost and Acting President Lois Wims said. “It gives the students the knowledge that there’s a community behind them that’s invested in their success in a very real way, and it gives our students confidence.”
In 2023, an additional 23 new funds were established, and 421 scholarship awards were made available to students. Data shows that the likelihood of students staying on track and graduating on time increases by over 40 percent if they receive just one scholarship.
At every table, donors and recipients engaged in friendly conversation, as students and donors got to know one another. Many of the relationships that get started at the brunch continue for years to come. Longtime supporter of the university Maryanne Hammond ’69 said she was pleased to get to know a student who plans to be an orthopedic surgeon. “He promised me he would take care of my knees. So I’m getting in to get my knees replaced in five years,” she joked.
“But this is wonderful,” she said, “because this is why we do what we do. We’re still teachers, we’re still mentors. We bring these kids from kids to adulthood, help them become productive members of society.”
“It’s just a great event,” donor Dave Meyers ’76 said. “It gives us the opportunity to meet the students, to meet other donors, to meet old friends from years ago. And it’s wonderful to sit and talk to the students, find out what they’re doing, where they want to go, and to be part of helping them get there. I hope this process never ends.”
Avery Dow, a recipient of the David ’76 and Ellen M.Ed. ’88 Meyers Endowed Scholarship, said, “It establishes a sense of community to know where we are receiving these rewards from and to put a face to the name. It also allows us to meet people with similar interests and hear from their stories in order to help us with our future paths.”
Vincent ’66 and Roseanne ’65 Matulaitis have established three scholarships. “We both were told as youngsters and as teenagers that you can’t lose a good education,” Roseanne said. “Worcester State was very good to us,” Vincent added. “We’ve been successful because of it. And it’s nice to see all these young guys be successful.”
They sat at a table with four recipients of their scholarships. All of the recipients expressed their appreciation for the support and their excitement at meeting their benefactors.
Many of the connections are especially meaningful to all parties. Eddie Peladeau ’17 and Nathan Childs ’18 are two of the youngest donors to establish a scholarship. Their scholarship, the Tyler Nims Memorial Scholarship, is named for a friend of theirs who died by suicide while still in college. Both expressed pleasure at meeting this year’s recipient of their scholarship, Chelsea Colageo, who returned to school after a nearly decade-long hiatus, following the suicide of her son’s father. She is now majoring in psychology and mental health services. “I have a seven-year-old son, so it’s been hard, working and then everything else in school,” she said. “The scholarship has definitely changed my life a lot. It’s helped me so much.” Peladeau called Colageo “the exact type of person we wanted our scholarship to go to.”
The brunch is also a way for Worcester State University Advancement to say thank you for the support of donors and to celebrate and foster community. In his remarks, Tom McNamara, vice president of University Advancement, said, “The real power of philanthropy is in the enduring impact that resonates long after a gift is made. The inspiration sparked to others and is a catalyst that will continue generosity and keep our mission alive. We are forever grateful for the continued engagement and support for our entire community, and we thank all of you who are with us today.”
McNamara called the brunch a “highlight.” “I think a lot of the donors see in the students why they created a scholarship and what it means and how impactful it is,” he said. “I can tell, every year, the donors leave happy and the students do as well. It’s my favorite event of the year.”
Top image: Photo by Matt Wright.
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