Students, Donors Gather to Celebrate Accomplishments
By Beth Johnson
Mason students had the opportunity to meet their scholarship benefactors and thank them for their financial assistance at the annual Scholarship Dinner on April 6.
“The scholarship dinner is such a meaningful event for all those involved,” said Marc Broderick, vice president for University Development and Alumni Affairs. “Students are able to share their Mason experiences with the individuals who have supported them so generously, and donors get to truly see what a difference their gifts are making.”
Two students, Paulina Noel (pictured left with George and Joanne Johnson) and Mariana Cruz, offered their stories as part of the evening’s remarks. Paulina Noel, a single mother, came to Mason to finish her undergraduate degree in hopes of bolstering her job prospects after several years of not working. Finding the financial means to finish her education and still support herself and her daughter proved to be a challenge, but with the help of the Mark and Catherine Winkler Single Parent Endowed Scholarship and the Dr. Lucille G. Shandloff Memorial Endowed Scholarship, she is well on her way.
"It was very important to me to show my daughter how important education is," said Noel in her speech."I'm overwhelmed to be here. I am just so thankful to the Shandloff and Winkler families."
Mariana Cruz (pictured right), winner of the 2011 Alumni Association Senior of the Year award, will graduate this May, thanks in part to the William and Susan Eddy Soza Distinguished Scholarship. Mariana Cruz is a Lima, Peru, native and an aspiring civil engineer who has made a name for herself since arriving at Mason through numerous extracurricular activities, including leadership roles in a number of engineering organizations and serving as a tutor and peer advisor to fellow students. She helped to establish Mason’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, and in August 2010, traveled to her home country to evaluate irrigation and drinking water strategies for an Andean village.
"I would like to personally thank all donors,” said Cruz. “I'm sure all students agree that [having a scholarship] is a huge weight off your shoulders, and motivates you to become a better student."
To round out the evening, the Alumni Association presented its annual scholarship awards to four deserving students (pictured left to right: Moreno, Quarcoo, and Abukwaik). Mirella Saldaña-Moreno, received the Peter C. Forame Student Leader Scholarship for her efforts with the Early Identification Program (EIP) and role as a Mason Ambassador. The sophomore, majoring in global affairs and Spanish, also mentors first-generation Latina college students.
The George Mason University Alumni Association Service Scholarship was awarded to Nicole Grim, a sophomore majoring in global affairs and conflict analysis and resolution. In addition to serving as the vice president of events for the Mason Ambassadors, Grim chaired the advertising committee for GBAY during the auction's inaugural year in 2010, raising over $10,000 for student scholarships, and was named Best New Member of a Greek Organization for her work within the Alpha Phi sorority.
Joseph Quarcoo, a sophomore majoring in government and international politics, earned the John C. and Louise P. Wood Undergraduate Scholarship. Originally from Ghana, Quarcoo takes classes in the Honor’s College and works on campus as a resident advisor, hoping to one day attend law school.
The John C. and Louise P. Wood Graduate Scholarship was presented to Hadil Abukwaik, who is pursuing her PhD in information technology with a concentration in software engineering. The Palestinian native was also a Fulbright scholarship recipient, which brought her to the U.S. from Gaza to pursue her education.
Visit Supporting Mason to learn more about gifts in action or show your support for student scholarships.
Photos by Cable Risdon.
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