Lily Silva ’22 recently helped a student one-on-one with a lesson on Ancient Greece and Sparta. The young teacher, who earned a bachelor’s from the University of Mary Washington, said she felt gratified when the teen began to draw connections between battles for territory fought by early civilizations and his own experiences in the inner city.
“My students are funny, intelligent, and have bright futures ahead of them, but they don’t have many people that believe in them,” said Lily, who is now pursuing a master’s degree in secondary social studies through UMW’s College of Education while teaching in Richmond City Public Schools. “I want to be that for them. And because of the Ukrop Scholars Program, I can.”
Lily was among the Mary Washington students who spoke at the University’s 2022 Celebration of Giving, held for the first time in three years, on Dec. 8. Hosted by President Troy Paino and wife Kelly, guests reveled at festive cocktails and enjoyed a served dinner and caroling by the UMW Symfonics. But the real showstopper came when students shared personal stories illustrating the impact of private support on their Mary Washington experience.
“You make a profound difference in the lives of our students, faculty, and staff through your support and collective efforts,” Vice President for Advancement Katie Turcotte told the 100-plus donors in attendance. Last year Mary Washington awarded a total of $2.2 million in scholarships to students, she said, with $1.6 million of that coming from endowments. “So, on behalf of the University, thank you. Were it not for you, we wouldn’t be celebrating together tonight.”
President Paino, who introduced each of the student speakers, said that through their generosity to UMW, donors teach students about the value of philanthropy and service.
“At Mary Washington, it’s in our DNA to produce students who care deeply about making the world a better place,” he said. “They use their talents, developing them as they go, and give to others, much like all of you.”
Senior theatre major Oscar León ’23 said receiving the June Davis McCormack ’49 Scholarship and other awards allowed him to stay in college an extra year so he could have more chances to perform onstage.
“These scholarships have afforded me opportunities and helped me follow my dreams,” said Oscar, who recently starred in UMW Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Show and interned at Wolf Trap last summer. Minoring in arts administration and musical theatre, he aspires to work at an arts organization in the greater D.C. area.
Hollis Cobb ’23, a senior English major, spoke about how he is putting philanthropy into practice. Several years ago, he turned a 1989 ambulance into Bookmobile Fredericksburg. UMW’s Center for Community Engagement, Community Outreach and Resources (COAR), and Center for Economic Development helped him launch the nonprofit library-on-wheels, which distributes free books at schools, community events, farmers’ markets, and on campus.
“What I created might have been done on my own,” said Hollis, who hopes to work in the nonprofit sector while continuing to run the Bookmobile. “But I was equipped and supported every step of the way by the UMW community.”
That sentiment was echoed by Jane Kisselev, a senior international business major, who explained how her Washington Scholarship – which provides full tuition, room, and board – enabled her to study the fashion business in Paris. She’ll continue that research for her senior capstone on the secondhand clothing market before joining Fannie Mae’s climate impact team after graduation.
Summing up her gratitude, Jane said: “None of these opportunities would have been possible without the UMW community and donors like you.”
Learn more about establishing scholarships and how private support makes a difference in the lives of UMW students who receive scholarships, research fellowships, and internship grants.
View photos from the 2022 Celebration of Giving.
– Article written by Assistant Director of Advancement Communications Jill Graziano Laiacona ’04