Supporting Penn’s Present and Future: The 2012 Scholarship Celebration
April 12, 2012
Sola Ayobiojo, W’12
Recipients and donors of undergraduate named scholarships agree on one thing: Scholarships are worth much more than financial assistance. They create personal connections that last well beyond the term of an award.
That was on display at the 2012 Spring Scholarship Celebration earlier this week. More than 500 people attended the event, held at the stately Gotham Hall in New York City. Scholarship recipients – exceptional students who would not be able to attend Penn without financial help – met and, in many cases, reconnected with their donors.
“We endowed a scholarship to get to know students,” said donor Mindy Utay, C’79, PAR’12, PAR’15. She and her husband Mark Utay, W’80, WG’81, established the Utay Family Endowed Scholarship in 2001, and endowed a second fund in 2010, to provide assistance to students at Wharton and the College, respectively. “We are still in touch with our former students. We have even been invited to their weddings. We consider them all a part of our Penn family,” Mindy said. The Utays have two sons attending Penn. “We get very involved with them, helping them with jobs, internships, and networking.”
Oyinkansola (Sola) Ayobiojo, W’12, delivered one of two student speeches at the event, and said that one of her donors, Bill Schawbel, helped her get an internship with the Girl Scouts of Boston, Mass. He is her mentor to this day, and he even calls himself her “grandfather.”
Schawbel, W’61, and his wife Judy Samelson helped Ayobiojo get a leg up. She is the daughter of a single mother who left Nigeria with little money, hoping for a successful future for her children. Now, Ayobiojo aims to work in private equity before obtaining her MBA, and becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Ayobiojo is also supported by a scholarship from Robert Aresty, W’63, and Jane Aresty Silverman, GCP’70.
“Throughout life, someone has helped each and every one of us along the way. Two families helped me along my way through Penn,” Ayobiojo said. “Beyond their financial assistance, they took the time to get to know me personally.”
In addition to Ayobiojo, the audience heard speeches from Benjamin Brockman, C’12, Penn President Amy Gutmann, and George Weiss, W’65, vice chair of Penn’s Board of Trustees and chair of the Making History Campaign.
Gutmann informed the audience that during the Making History Campaign, the University has raised more than $300 million for undergraduate financial aid to date. “We have established more than 670 scholarships since the start of the campaign. Since 2004, we have more than doubled undergraduate financial aid,” Dr. Gutmann said.
Both Gutmann and Weiss said that Penn would continue to press for undergraduate support. “The need will continue after the campaign because undergraduate financial aid is an evergreen priority for Penn," Gutmann said.
> Find inspiring student stories and learn how to establish your own endowment at the Undergraduate Named Scholarships website.
| ||Helping in a time of widespread need|
During difficult economic times, such as the months and years following 2008 when the U.S. economy took a sudden nosedive, there is a tendency for many to hunker down and conserve their financial resources.
Samuel, W’88, and Marni Gaer, C’88, did the opposite. They recognized that there would be many Penn students whose families also felt the brunt of the downturn, and generously established an endowed scholarship fund to help them.
“We knew that it was an appropriate time to step up,” Samuel Gaer said. “That was when students needed the help most.”
Amanda Liew, W'13, recipient of the Gaer Family Scholarship, said that the biggest benefit of her award is the relief it brings from worrying about incurring steep student loans. It makes it easier for her to set aside five percent of each paycheck from her job to give to charity immediately, and another five percent to invest in future charitable giving.
That’s exactly the kind of student that the Gaers were looking for. They require that their scholarship benefit students who have a proven track record of exceptional service to their communities.
The couple met at Penn on their very first day on campus, and their son will begin his freshman year at Penn this fall semester.
“Penn has helped us to establish a pathway in life and has contributed to a good part of our success, in family, health, and career,” Marni Gaer said. “We wanted to do our part in contributing to a student’s success.”
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