It’s obvious to Anthony Morris ’11 that academics had something do with his being selected for the university’s Alumni Association Scholarship. But the straight-A student realizes that grades alone would have been insufficient.
“I think what they saw was that not only was I successful academically, but throughout college I’ve shown that I apply what I learn to the real world,” he says. He was one of five 2010 recipients of the scholarship, which is awarded for a combination of academic achievement and community engagement. Morris, a psychology major, came to UMass Boston after two years at Holyoke Community College, where he was valedictorian. A past CityYear volunteer, he sees community service as a vehicle for social change and plans to be a psychotherapist to assist disadvantaged populations. When he was introduced to the Alumni Association at its June 2010 meeting, Morris observed that the Alumni Association Scholarship “is an investment in our community.”
“One of the greatest aspects of the scholarship process is to engage with our current students,” says Alumni Association president Adrian Haugabrook ’02. “Reading the applications gives us a window into the lives of our current students and allows us to reward them for the fantastic work they are doing.”
Remarkable life stories
Former board president and board member Jim Smith ’69 says the “remarkable life stories” he encounters when the board reviews candidates remind him of the intellectual drive he witnessed among his classmates in UMass Boston’s charter class. Board member Maureen Melton ’85 says that no matter whether alumni studied in the 1970s, ’80s, or ’90s, “we all remember viscerally what it was to be a student at UMass Boston, where we deeply valued an education that was within our financial reach, even if we had to work one or more jobs.”
Melton, Smith, and Haugabrook all believe that the Alumni Association Scholarship provides a framework for alumni to connect their shared experiences and offer today’s students the same opportunities they were afforded.
Increasing alumni engagement
Over the past few years, the Alumni Association has become a stronger advocate for the university. Its members’ commitment and volunteerism have enabled the board to increase the size of the scholarship, which currently provides $15,000 in support. “Encouraging even higher levels of alumni engagement is a board priority,” says Haugabrook. “We need more alumni to reach back into their experiences and remember the points that connected them to UMass Boston. We ask them to give back through their gifts so that we can engage more students with these life-changing awards.”