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President's Blog: From the Heart

Wind Beneath Their Wings

By Eric F. Spina

During Sunday’s scholarship brunch, I marveled at Daisha Williams’ poise, confidence — and ease in articulating why investing in students pays dividends.

“One thing I learned at the University of Dayton is that you cannot put a limit on yourself,” the first-generation college student told donors at the kick-off of Donor Appreciation Week. “There is no limit to what I’m capable of doing. Just as much as I believe in myself, others do, too.”

As the event’s emcee and one of four student panelists, Daisha slowly unfolded her story over chicken salad croissants, fruit and pumpkin cheesecake. Her academic journey is one of perseverance and gratitude.

“I grew up in West Dayton and attended an inner-city high school. While the University of Dayton was only a few miles away, the possibility of attending UD seemed out of reach,” said the senior education major. “Raised in a single-parent household, and the first in my family to pursue college, I knew I would need additional support if my college dreams were to become reality.

“I found that support,” she told us, “through my mentor, Professor Novea McIntosh, and the Flyer Promise Scholars program — an initiative made possible through the generosity of donors. Mine is just one of many stories of how donors have helped open doors to more students.”

Last fiscal year, UD awarded $7.4 million to more than 1,800 students, with an average award amount of $4,100. Scholarships not only allow talented students to attend UD, but also provide hands-on learning opportunities that give our graduates an edge over their peers.

When I looked around the Kennedy Union ballroom, I saw alumni and friends enjoying a meal and animated conversations with a diversity of students, all discovering their promise and potential. Talent doesn’t know ZIP code, socio-economic status, race, or geography, but sometimes talent needs a boost. I felt a surge of pride over the students’ accomplishments and deep gratitude to our donors for making their dreams of a college education possible.

Scholarships “sealed the deal” for Caiden Guzman, a sophomore mechanical engineering major from Maumee, Ohio, who chose UD over MIT and the University of Cincinnati. “I wanted to go where they wanted me. UD welcomed me with open arms and made me feel I was part of the family.” 

Jacob Mantle, a senior public relations major from Cincinnati, told us he “felt called” to attend UD, where he’s learned leadership skills as an officer with Red Scare, the largest (and loudest) student organization on campus. When he toured campus, “the people were amazing. The financial aid and scholarship offer made it an easy decision.”

Scholarship recipient Macy Purdy, a junior accounting major from Le Roy, New York, will intern for the second straight summer with PricewaterhouseCoopers. She chose UD because “I wanted to go to a place where I could bond with my professors and make great connections.”

As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful to our generous donors — the wind beneath the wings of these remarkable students who are helping UD soar.

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