Students, Donors Gather to Celebrate Accomplishments

Posted: April 8, 2011 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: April 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm

By Beth Johnson

Students (from left) Mirella Saldaña-Moreno, who received the Peter C. Forame Student Leader Scholarship; Joseph Quarcoo, who earned the John C. and Louise P. Wood Undergraduate Scholarship; and Hadil Abukwaik, who received the John C. and Louise P. Wood Graduate Scholarship. Photo by Cable Risdon

Mason students had the opportunity to meet their scholarship benefactors and thank them for their financial assistance at the annual Scholarship Dinner on April 6.

“The scholarship dinner is such a meaningful event for all those involved,” says Marc Broderick, vice president for University Development and Alumni Affairs.

“Students are able to share their Mason experiences with the individuals who have supported them so generously, and donors get to truly see what a difference their gifts are making.”

Two students, Paulina Noel and Mariana Cruz, offered their stories as part of the evening’s remarks. Noel, a single mother, came to Mason to finish her undergraduate degree in hopes of bolstering her job prospects after being out of the workforce for several years.

Finding the financial means to finish her education and still support herself and her daughter proved to be a challenge, but with the help of the Mark and Catherine Winkler Single Parent Endowed Scholarship and the Dr. Lucille G. Shandloff Memorial Endowed Scholarship, she is well on her way.

“It was very important to me to show my daughter how important education is,” Noel said in her speech.”I’m overwhelmed to be here. I am just so thankful to the Shandloff and Winkler families.”

Mariana Cruz, winner of the 2011 Alumni Association Senior of the Year award, will graduate in May, thanks in part to the William and Susan Eddy Soza Distinguished Scholarship.

Scholarship recipient Paulina Noel, center, with George Johnson, former Mason president, and his wife, Joanne Johnson. Photo by Cable Risdon

Cruz is a Lima, Peru, native and an aspiring civil engineer who has made a name for herself since arriving at Mason through numerous extracurricular activities, including leadership roles in a number of engineering organizations and serving as a tutor and peer advisor to fellow students.

Cruz helped to establish Mason’s Engineers Without Borders chapter, and in August 2010, traveled to her home country to evaluate irrigation and drinking water strategies for an Andean village.

“I would like to personally thank all donors,” said Cruz. “I’m sure all students agree that [having a scholarship] is a huge weight off your shoulders and motivates you to become a better student.”

To round out the evening, the Alumni Association presented its annual scholarship awards to four deserving students.

  • Mirella Saldaña-Moreno received the Peter C. Forame Student Leader Scholarship for her efforts with the Early Identification Program and role as a Mason Ambassador. The sophomore, majoring in global affairs and Spanish, also mentors first-generation Latina college students.
  • The George Mason University Alumni Association Service Scholarship was awarded to Nicole Grim, a sophomore majoring in global affairs and conflict analysis and resolution. In addition to serving as the vice president of events for the Mason Ambassadors, Grim chaired the advertising committee for GBAY during the auction’s inaugural year in 2010, raising more than $10,000 for student scholarships, and was named Best New Member of a Greek Organization for her work within the Alpha Phi sorority.
  • Joseph Quarcoo, a sophomore majoring in government and international politics, earned the John C. and Louise P. Wood Undergraduate Scholarship. Originally from Ghana, Quarcoo takes classes in the Honors College and works on campus as a resident advisor. He hopes to attend law school.
  • The John C. and Louise P. Wood Graduate Scholarship was presented to Hadil Abukwaik, who is pursuing a PhD in information technology with a concentration in software engineering. The Palestine native was also a Fulbright scholarship recipient, which brought her to the United States from Gaza to pursue her education.

More information on scholarship gifts in action and opportunities for support is available on the Supporting Mason website.

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