University of Mary Washington junior Norah Walsh ’24 remembers taking a strenuous uphill hike with classmates on the Spanish island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe on a hot day last year. Their sweaty bus ride back was a bonding experience, she said, but it remains one of her most memorable moments since coming to Mary Washington.
“I would not have been able to go to Spain without the Abbott International Study Abroad Scholarship,” said Norah, a Spanish and philosophy major who earned four scholarships at UMW. “So, thank you very much, Marty Abbott.”
Norah expressed those words of gratitude at the 2023 Donor Appreciation Luncheon and Student Showcase on Saturday, March 25, at the Cedric Rucker University Center. Held in person for the first time in four years, the annual event honors supporters who have established private scholarships for students, as well as members of UMW’s Washington and Heritage societies, who have given or pledged significant funds to the University.
Guests mixed and mingled with scholarship recipients who displayed their academic pursuits and projects, then dined in the Chandler Ballroom and later listened as student speakers and UMW President Troy Paino thanked them for their generous gifts to Mary Washington.
“You are making a dramatic difference in the lives of students so they can access a public liberal arts and sciences education,” said President Paino, announcing that the University awarded $2.2 million through 817 privately funded scholarships in the last fiscal year.
He also highlighted the “transformational” gift from the estate of Irene Piscopo Rodgers ’59, who passed away last July. The $30 million gift will create four new full-ride Alvey Scholarships and exponentially grow UMW’s undergraduate scientific research program, he said. “We are so grateful to Irene and to all of you who invest in our students.”
Because of her own experience studying in Madrid as a Mary Washington student, Marty Abbott ’72 embarked on a career in foreign language education. Creating a scholarship to help UMW students experience travel overseas, she said, was the natural next step.
“Norah truly embodies the reason why I created this scholarship,” said Marty, who swapped stories about Spain with Norah at the luncheon. “I always appreciate hearing from students how scholarships have impacted them professionally and personally.”
Serving as emcee, sophomore Kaylah Lightfoot ’25 shared how receiving the Balfour Scholarship for Leadership has helped her hone those skills and serve in campus leadership roles, including as the newly elected vice president of UMW’s Student Government Association.
Sophomore Davy Washington ’25, a creative writing major, said they needed the Susan Leavitt ’83 Scholarship, designed for students who experience a personal hardship, in order to help cover the cost of tuition.
“After my mom died unexpectedly, it gave me the chance to focus on my studies and live the ideal college student experience,” said Davy, who read a poem about their mother to the audience. “Being a student in need and knowing that there are donors who support students like me has been one of the most heartwarming experiences I’ve had in college.”
To learn more about establishing scholarships, please contact the Office of University Advancement at (540) 654-1024 or firstname.lastname@example.org. View photos and videos from the 2023 Donor Appreciation Luncheon and Student Showcase.
Norah Walsh is the recipient of the Amanda Elizabeth Dresser ’95 Scholarship, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship, the Abbott International Study Abroad Scholarship, and the Fita Rivas Scholarship in Spanish.
Davy Washington is the recipient of the Susan Leavitt ’83 Scholarship.
Kaylah Lightfoot is the recipient of the Balfour Scholarship for Leadership.
– Article written by Assistant Director of Advancement Communications Jill Graziano Laiacona ’04