On Saturday, April 1, 2017, alumni and students gathered in Harwood Arena for the Scholarship Recognition Ceremony.
The ceremony served to bring recognition of the carefully selected students who received a scholarship.
Hosted by the Kean University Foundation, attendees snacked on tasty brunch foods while mingling. For most students, this was the first time meeting the donors of their respective scholarships, the people who helped them on their educational journey of the 2016-2017 semesters.
Dr. Dawood Farahi, president of Kean University, said, “My job today is to really tell the donor that...without them...” so many students would not benefit from their selfless generosity. “This is an amazing thing.”
The Kean University President told a story of how he recently attended a Kean graduate’s White Coat Ceremony, which is when a medical student transitions and receives their white doctor coat.
“To go as far as you want to go and as high as you want to go...It takes work,” Dr. Farahi said. “Everytime I see one of you succeed, I get goosebumps.”
He glanced around the room, looking at the students who are still in their studies, and the alumni that have moved on from Kean University, but have never truly left behind being a Cougar.
“A scholarship is truly an amazing gift, [one] that can open a lot of doors,” said Maria Bordas. Bordas is the vice chair of Kean Foundation Board of Directors.
Crystal Dill, recipient of the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation Scholarship, greeted all who sat in the filled arena, her gratitude shining through before she even said a word.
“My gratitude is immense,” Dill said. “Because of your support, I’m standing here today with my daughter.”
She is a single mom raising her eight-year-old daughter while attending to her undergraduate workload. A few years back, she made the life-changing decision to move the two of them from Bermuda to New Jersey, changing their environment and lives completely.
“It seemed my dream was being blocked...it was a challenge, but we worked through it,” she said as she continued sharing her story.
Despite the interferences of getting here, she continued to maintain the drive to achieve the dream she shaped for herself and her daughter.
Dr. Farahi said a statement early on in the ceremony that hung in the arena. This statement, it applies to all students of Kean University: “If you have a dream that doesn’t scare the daylight out of you, it isn’t a dream...it’s a wish.”
Indeed, opportunities do arise with a scholarship. For Dill, that door was to be the first in her immediate family to attend college, a college located a thousand miles away from everything she was accustomed to.
Once here, Dill chose to major in psychology. In fall 2017, she will graduate with her Bachelor’s in Psychology. That will not be the last the Kean community sees of Dill. Following her undergrad years, Dill will return to study at Kean University for her master’s degree.
Receiving a scholarship, students earn more than funds for their studies; a scholarship gives confidence.
The Dills left the stage with her daughter saying, “When I get older, I want to attend Kean University, just like my mom.”
Students and donors were then given the chance to socialize some more, conversations ranging from learning more about one another to the donor’s career and the student’s ambitions to more personal topics, such as how receiving this scholarship helped diminish or lessen their academic financial struggles.
As printed on placemats on each table, $750,000 was awarded to Kean students in the 2016-2017 academic year. Out of 1,301 Kean University Foundation Scholarship applications received in the last cycle, 338 students were lucky enough to benefit from the donors’ benevolence.
Scholarship recipients were asked to assemble beyond the doors of Harwood Arena. They then lined up, and together, reentered the ceremony to smiles and applause, as the students walked slowly across the arena towards the stage. Recipients, one by one, walked across the stage, bent their heads in acceptance of the dark green honor cord and posed for a picture, smiles bright and broad in front of all recipients, donors and guests.
Brian Treanor, Office of Scholarship Services director, addressed the crowd from the stage. Treanor opened with asking the recipients to stand so they could be recognized by all in Harwood Arena.
“You owe yourself a round of applause,” he said.
And that is just what the crowd did. Surrounded by their family, friends and generous donors, the recipients stood proud and grateful of the opportunities given to them.