A University of Massachusetts Boston alumna and her daughter were reunited Wednesday with the generous donor whose scholarship fund helped make their education possible.
Dasheka Tate and her daughter, Jasmine, visited UMass Boston for a luncheon with businessman and philanthropist Charles J. Hoff, who has funded scholarships for students with financial need across the University of Massachusetts system.
Mother and daughter are both recipients of Charles J. Hoff Scholarships. Dasheka graduated from UMass Boston in 1999; Jasmine is currently enrolled in the Commonwealth Honors College at UMass Amherst.
“I feel that UMass Boston is an education in itself,” Hoff said at the luncheon. “You have students from all walks of life, nontraditional students, traditional students . . . there’s nothing else close to it at any other school.”
In 1995, Dasheka was on a pre-med track at UMass Boston. She applied for a Hoff Scholarship with an essay about the challenges she faced as a teen mother trying to live independently.
Dasheka became teary-eyed as she recalled how she always wanted to be the “best mother I knew how to be” for Jasmine, and how the Hoff family helped set her on a path to success.
“If I had to deal with figuring out how I was going to live and eat, I wouldn’t have graduated,” said Dasheka. “For me to be able to do it—that’s how Jasmine was able to be successful.”
The money Dasheka received helped her pay rent, support her daughter, and keep up with her tuition payments. After graduating from UMass Boston with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Dasheka earned a nursing degree from Simmons College.
Almost two decades later, Jasmine applied for and received her own Hoff Scholarship. Her essay began by thanking the Hoff family for the support they gave to her mother.
Jasmine hopes to become an immigration attorney. Hoff says Jasmine received a scholarship because she has the same passion for her future career that her mother had for medicine.
“That’s what I look for in all the students we help, a fire in the belly about the work they want to do,” Hoff said, “Jasmine is a superstar at UMass Amherst, and the Commonwealth Honors College is a very selective program. In her interview, we had a great discussion about how she wanted to be an immigration lawyer.”
Hoff and his mother interviewed every applicant together until recent years, when she stopped for health reasons. Dasheka remembers her interview in 1995, when Mrs. Hoff whisked her away by the arm, asking her questions about her baby, her classes, and her plans after graduation.
“She seemed to really care about my life,” Dasheka recalled.
Hoff thinks his mother might have seen something of herself in Dasheka’s story. Hoff’s father served in World War II, leaving his mother alone to tend to a new baby.
For almost two decades, the Hoff Foundation has given scholarships to UMass students who have demonstrated financial need. Hoff has a particular interest in giving to UMass Lowell, his alma mater, and UMass Boston. The Hoff family has given $780,000 to UMass Boston alone.
The scholarships have gone to immigrants, homeless students, and students who have spent time in prison.
“Not everyone who works hard gets the kind of opportunities that I’ve had,” Hoff said. “When it gets down to the people I interview, they’re driven. You know that they’re going to be successful with just a little bit of help.”