Giving back. Paying it forward. Making a difference. Each of these statements is true when University of San Diego alumni donors provide critical financial support to an endowed scholarship fund that helps current and new Toreros enjoy the same strong academic, community and social opportunities as they did.
Applications for the USD Alumni Association’s five scholarship programs — the Alumni Endowed, Therese Whitcomb ’53, Daniel L. Burkett Memorial, Kyle O’Connell Memorial and the Senior Class Legacy — are being accepted. The application deadline is Thursday, Feb. 28, 5 p.m.
Sarah Zakaria, associate director for USD’s Office of Alumni Relations, said more than 40 students — undergraduate, graduate and transfer students — received awards between $600 and $3,000 last year through these five scholarship programs. All gifts large and small — and on-campus events such as the USD Wine Classic — help the USD Alumni Endowed Scholarship Fund support current students. Zakaria said more than 6,500 alumni have donated since the fund’s inception.
“These alumni scholarships and the donors are the original Changemakers at USD,” said Zakaria, referring to the university’s recent designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus. “They’ve given back to USD and they’ve left a legacy intended to help current students, the next Changemakers.”
There are special criteria for the five scholarships and each requires a written essay. Four of this year’s scholarship recipients will be notified by Aug. 15 (Senior Class Legacy recipients are notified by May 1). Here’s a brief description:
- Therese Whitcomb ’53 Scholarship: Created to honor USD’s first graduate, Therese Truitt Whitcomb, it is awarded to eligible sophomore, junior or seniors with a 3.0 or greater GPA, demonstrated exceptional service to USD or community, and legacy and transfer students are also considering factors.
- Daniel L. Burkett Memorial Scholarship: Honoring the late 2006 alumnus for his significant impact on community and student life while at USD, this scholarship recognizes students who’ve shown exceptional involvement in USD Greek Life and community service.
- Kyle O’Connell Memorial Scholarship: This scholarship, which honors the young son of USD alumni Michael ’87 and Julie ’88 (Belfiore) O’Connell who bravely fought brain cancer, inspired alumni to create this tribute to his memory. Applicants are graduate or undergraduate (junior or senior) students enrolled in the study of healing arts, including nursing, marriage and family therapy and sciences.
- Alumni Endowed Scholarship: The fund for this scholarship was launched in 2006 to provide current graduate and undergraduate students with financial need, strong academic merit and those who give back to USD and local community.
- Senior Class Legacy Scholarship: Open to all undergraduate students, including freshmen and graduating seniors, this award, created by USD’s Class of 1989, is unique because “it is 100 percent for students, from students,” said Alicia Massei ’07, assistant director in USD’s Office of Annual Giving. “It is your way to pay it forward so that the next generation can have the same wonderful USD experiences you had. Every gift matters, every gift counts. Together, the Class of 2013 can make a difference in USD’s future.”
While each scholarship has distinctive reasons for its creation, the intended purpose, wholly, is the same.
“Alumni scholarship donors … with your generosity, I am able to pursue my dreams of participating in a career in education with the hope of having a positive impact on others’ lives,” said Celina, a 2012 USD alumna, who received the Whitcomb Scholarship her junior year. “While attending USD, I have learned that one can do anything if he or she has a dream. Thank you for helping to be part of the journey to fulfill my dream.”
— Ryan T. Blystone
Zakaira said USD alumni are welcome to volunteer to help in the scholarship selection process. To be eligible, alumni must first complete a volunteer interest form. Alumni can also donate a gift in any amount to USD Scholarships.