Trying Times Bring Donors and Students Closer Together

July 16, 2020


In the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, scholarships help fuel transformation for our students. Through scholarships, donors support Eller students so they can overcome barriers that may keep them from pursuing a desired major or program—and the support does not stop there. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarah Smallhouse, trustee for the Thomas R. Brown Foundation, sent a letter of personal encouragement to the recipients of the Thomas R. Brown Foundation Scholarship as they transitioned to the new online learning environment: 

“Getting a UA degree requires great effort under normal conditions. Now it will require even more creativity, focus and determination,” reads the letter. “One thing is for sure, and that is your relationships with fellow students and course professors will be as important as ever and finding ways to build those connections maybe more important than ever. Don’t be shy about reaching out to others to share your ideas, concerns, ask questions and make suggestions. There will be problem-solving going on all the time, new opportunities will emerge—be part of the creative process.” 

Several scholarship recipients responded to this letter, voicing their gratitude for the scholarship and the foundation, as well as celebrating the numerous successes that were made possible in part by the scholarship. It is through these interactions that we can see the impact that the scholarship has had on the Eller community: 

“Being a first-generation college student, I found it extra difficult to finish my degree but with your help, my dream became a reality and I am so thankful for that.”  

“The Thomas R. Foundation Scholarship became an unprecedented blessing for me in my life this past year... this scholarship allowed me to take some time off working and spend more time with my mother, who has been sick for quite some time now. Also, the funding from this scholarship also allowed me to startup a new clinical project focusing on the bridge between music and its impact in the medical field.”  

“I would like to send my deepest thanks to you and the Brown Foundation for rewarding me with a scholarship over the past school year… This past semester has been crazy to say the least… It felt like the walls around me were being torn down while I had no control over it. Nonetheless, I stayed resilient and was able to finish off the year pretty well. I maintained my internship position at Raytheon Technologies, and have started working a full-time internship for the summer.”  

“As a recipient of this scholarship this school year, I was fortunately able to continue my education at the University of Arizona as an out-of-state student... As a student in the McGuire New Venture Development Program... My team and I won 2nd place out of 16 teams and took a prize of $5,000 dollars to help start our business.”  

“Thank you so much for all of the support you give not only to me, but to the other deserving students at this university as well... Just this past week I graduated (virtually) Magna Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in Systems Engineering and a double minor in Engineering Management and Mathematics, as well as with Honors distinction and a Certificate of Entrepreneurship.”   

“With your help, financial security was much less of a worry than it could have been. This would have been true even without the pandemic, but because your support came in the wake of COVID-19, you took away a huge weight, and have helped me survive this semester. Thank you, and I hope you, too are making it through.” 

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