Giving Back

GW honors scholarship and fellowship donors at sixth annual celebration.

March 29, 2010

Three out of five George Washington students receive some sort of financial aid.

Some of that assistance comes from more than 400 donor-funded scholarships and fellowships.

On the evening of March 25 at The Fairmont hotel, more than 150 GW students got the chance to thank the donors that helped fund their education this year.

“Well over half of our students are only here because of financial aid,” said GW President Steven Knapp. “Your generosity really makes dreams come true.”

Cory Struble is one of the students who has tremendously benefited from scholarships.

“I definitely would not have been able to go to GW without these scholarships. I’m the son of a single mother of two,” said Mr. Struble, a senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs majoring in Asian studies and international affairs and minoring in philosophy. “My scholarships have completely changed my life and opened up opportunities that would have never existed for me. Without them, things would have been very different.”

By attending GW, Mr. Struble had the opportunity to intern at the U.S. Senate and serve as the president of GW’s College Democrats.

Because Mr. Struble has had such a rewarding experience at GW, he plans to donate scholarship money in the future and encourages his peers to do the same.

“It is our duty to give back to the institution that gave so generously to us. Soon it will be our responsibility to ensure that students like us continue to have a place at GW and do our part in ensuring that GW will always be an institution of higher learning that offers young scholars from all walks of life an opportunity to make something better out of themselves,” said Mr. Struble, who plans to go to law school in the fall.

Deborah Sarnoff, M.D. ’80 and the keynote speaker for the event, said she doesn’t know where she would be today without GW. While in medical school, she met her husband and interned at the National Institutes of Health, conducting clinical research in dermatology, which helped her obtain a residency at New York University’s Skin and Cancer Unit.

“It ’s not fair to be extremely blessed and not do something about it,” said Dr. Sarnoff, who has established a scholarship fund at GW. A board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Sarnoff specializes in cosmetic dermatology, laser surgery and micrographic surgery for the treatment of skin cancer.

For Rachel Schreibman, M.A. ’10, receiving a scholarship inspired her to pursue a career dedicated to helping others battling chronic illnesses.

While enrolled in GW’s art therapy program, Ms. Schreibman worked at a dialysis unit as an art therapy intern.

“This scholarship has unlocked a great dream I have, and it has served to empower, support and enable me,” she said.

Zoe Beckerman, J.D. ’05 and a member of GW’s Board of Trustees, decided to give scholarship money to GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services after learning that each year a handful of students have to leave the master’s program because they can no longer afford the tuition.

“It’s really important to attract high-caliber students, and the way you do that is being able to fund them,” said Ms. Beckerman, who studied in the Hirsh Health Law and Policy Program.  “I view this as a community commitment. We all receive a lot from being affiliated with the university. We make friends there, we learn great things or we get our dream job. It is really important to think about ensuring that the community stays strong for years to come.”

GW’s Power and Promise Fund aims to ensure that qualified students, regardless of their financial situations, can take full advantage of a GW education, and reduce the loan burden of graduates.

In order to increase the total amount of student aid, the university’s Board of Trustees infused an additional $10 million of endowment money into the financial aid budget this year--increasing undergraduate student aid from $123 million to $133 million. Furthermore, GW has set a goal of quadrupling its fundraising dollars for need-based scholarships.

“Scholarships have a tremendous effect on reducing the debt burdens of our graduates so they are free to pursue careers of their choosing,” said Julie Bindelglass, president of the GW Student Association.

“Alumni support is key to the continued success of GW,” said Dr. Sarnoff. “Something special really does happen here, and only through our donations can we ensure that ‘that special something’ continues to happen over and over and over again for future generations in the years to come.”

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