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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

A Legacy of Excellence

Mona Guerrier Fallen ’91 was a first-generation college student at UD whose remarkable journey led her to become an Assistant United States Attorney in Dayton, serving for over 13 years. After Mona passed away in 2013, her husband, Destry Fallen, established the Mona Guerrier Fallen Endowed Scholarship for the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center to honor her commitment to educational opportunities for all and her optimistic and enthusiastic approach to life.

Mona and Destry met at the University of Dayton. “We were both first-generation college students, and UD exposed us to life-changing opportunities and connected us with folks who are lifelong friends,” said Destry. Their first-generation student struggles and multi-ethnic experiences at UD have been the guiding force behind Destry’s commitment to supporting MEC.

Recognizing the importance of paying it forward in a way that would resonate with Mona’s vision for promoting educational opportunities for all, Destry established the scholarship to assist students with financial need and first-generation students, many of whom are from diverse backgrounds. 

“MEC curricula and programming are tailored for every student on this campus to be further educated around identity and the exploration of cultural backgrounds. It facilitates the celebration of heritage and the power of dialogue,” said Merida Allen, associate dean of students and executive director of MEC. “We work in partnership with other departments and units to center skill-building to ensure that students are developing as well-rounded scholars at the University.” 

Recipients of the Mona Guerrier Fallen Endowed Scholarship receive support throughout their academic journey, provided they meet the necessary academic and leadership requirements. This perpetual support serves as both motivation and assurance for students, as highlighted by Michael Gibson ’24, one of the scholarship recipients, who emphasizes MEC’s impact on his multicultural knowledge and academic growth.

“MEC has been a place where I’ve been blessed to connect with people who I might have never met if it weren’t for the events and the amazing staff that make it feel like home every time I step into the room,” said Gibson. 

Tierra Freeman ’24, another recipient of the scholarship and a pre-orientation leader for MEC, shares a similar sentiment, attributing her success to MEC’s programs and connections. 

“I started by joining the MEC PEERS Mentor Program where I had a student mentor and was also a mentee of a prior faculty member. I moved from a member to a leader and a mentee to a mentor by taking advantage of study rooms and going on Black student and MEC retreats,” said Freeman.

Gibson and Freeman, along with the scholarship’s other student recipients, recently attended the 11th Annual Mona Guerrier Fallen Scholarship reception, where they had the invaluable opportunity to interact with fellow scholarship recipients and Destry.

“It’s always a pleasure to speak with Mr. Destry Fallen because his words make me feel as if I can do anything I put my mind to. It was a proud moment to stand in front of my family and such a supportive group of people, and inform them of my dedication to my school work, discuss shared experiences and build community,” said Gibson.

For Destry, talking to the scholarship recipients at the reception is an annual highlight. “Interacting with them uplifts me every time. Hearing about how the scholarship is making a difference in their lives hits home because that was my vision, and it’s what Mona would have wanted.” 

Destry recently took his commitment to student success even further by joining the We Soar campaign cabinet, where he is playing an active role in encouraging others to support the scholarship and MEC. “It’s wonderful to see how Destry is ensuring that Mona’s legacy lives on and continues to inspire. It is an excellent example of the Flyer spirit of community opening doors to new opportunities that help current students soar,” said Chris Morrison, vice president of University Advancement.

Thanks to the generous donations from alumni, parents, faculty, staff and students during last spring’s One Day, One Dayton, UD’s annual day of giving, the University and Destry are continuing their efforts to sustain and expand critical MEC resources and ensure that they reach a wider student population in need of financial, academic and social support. These donations have allowed the scholarship to include support for life-changing experiences like studying abroad. 

“While grief is everlasting, it helps to see Mona’s legacy of hard work and excellence thrive. She could talk for days about the importance of education, and it is heartening to see that she continues to inspire and enable so many students to achieve their potential,” said Destry.

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