Donors, students come together at annual recognition dinner.
By James Irwin
In 2010, after receiving his acceptance letter to the George Washington University, Marwan Sulaiman placed a phone call to his family in Iraq. He had been living in Connecticut for several years and wanted to tell his parents the good news—and the catch that came along with it.
“I was so happy, and they were ecstatic,” Mr. Sulaiman said. “And then I said, ‘Wait, don’t congratulate me yet. I haven’t figured out financial aid.’”
Cost was going to be a major problem for Mr. Sulaiman, who had left the Middle East as a teenager, his family split by war and uncertainty. And then, Mr. Sulaiman received a message that changed his life.
“I woke up with an email saying I had received the Dirk S. Brady Endowed Scholarship Fund that would cover all four years at GW,” said Mr. Sulaiman, now a senior in the Elliott School of International Affairs.
“People had more faith in me than I had in myself.”
Mr. Sulaiman’s story was one of hundreds circulating the room Saturday night at GW’s annual Power & Promise dinner, celebrating benefactors and students. Power & Promise, established by President Steven Knapp, has raised nearly $100 million in scholarships and fellowships since 2009. Recently, it was announced that approximately $15 million of an $80 million gift from the Milken Institute, the Sumner M. Redstone Charitable Foundation and the Milken Family Foundation will be directed to support student financial aid—the largest single contribution ever to the Power & Promise fund.
“None of this would have been possible without the generosity of donors like those we are thanking and celebrating tonight,” Dr. Knapp said.
More than 350 students, staff, trustees and donors attended the dinner, which featured the premiere of the 2014 Power & Promise video. More than 60 percent of George Washington University students receive financial support, which reduces loan burdens on graduates and helps make higher education accessible to those who might otherwise struggle to afford tuition.
“All of this is a testament of the commitment of the GW community to increasing access to higher education,” Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Planning Forrest Maltzman said. “No single investment in GW has as great a return as a scholarship.”