Inspiring Students: Students grateful for scholarship gifts


The power of a gift is almost unquantifiable. It can brighten a mind, a hope, a future. Ask Vanessa Pesa ’15, who was presented with a scholarship at the Sweet Success Donor/Student Scholarship Reception.

Pesa was not only thankful for the donation that was awarded to her in October 2014 at the first such event to take place in many years, but she also spoke of the example that the donors were setting and how she wants to follow in the footsteps they’ve left.

“Your contribution inspires me to set my goals high and achieve all that I can,” she told an audience of over 125 donors, students and members of various scholarship committees, including ones focused on academics, private donors and the Foundation Scholarship Committee. “I hope one day I can give back to students and inspire their futures, just as this scholarship has done for me.”

Lisa McMahon, assistant director of Advancement and University Relations, says that the event was a “great opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the students’ successes.”

McMahon says that the event more than served its purpose in that it “gave students an opportunity to thank donors and likewise gave donors a chance to see the impact of their donation.”

The event also let students realize that “when the time comes, they too will be giving back,” she says.

McMahon says over 300 scholarships were given to deserving students with a record amount, over $225,000, given in total.

“The evening was a resounding triumph,” she adds. “We celebrated all the successes of the students and showed donors just how much their generosity meant to the recipients. It was a positive and upbeat evening.”

The role in the gathering for Beth Teague ’15 was two-fold. She not only received a scholarship but also helped to plan and organize the evening’s festivities. “It was amazing to see how the small, personalized details of the event made a distinct difference for all in attendance,” she says.

Teague was also thrilled with how many donors and students made the effort to attend. “I am honored to have been able to meet committee members and thank them in person for their incredible generosity,” she says.

Thomas Madden ’17 was another scholarship recipient who says he would like to donate in the future to help ease the financial burden of future Westfield State University students.

“Your award has taught me a valuable lesson in the importance of giving back,” Madden says. “As I continue my education, I hope to help others achieve their goals and inspire them to chase their dreams as you have helped me.” 


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