Thomas Leonard '13, the W. Keith Tunnell '66 Memorial Scholar.
Celebrating Scholarship Recipients
While all students move away from home to attend Haverford, few have moved quite as far as Thomas Leonard. The sophomore political science major travelled all the way from Calcutta, India, to enroll here because he knows the importance of a good education, a value instilled in him by his parents who are both teachers at a school for underprivileged children back in India.
Attracted by its intimate size, liberal arts curriculum and cricket team, Leonard knew he wanted to attend school at Haverford, but, he says, "with the work my parents do, I wouldn’t be able to come here paying full tuition." Thanks to the W. Keith Tunnell '66 Memorial Scholarship, which was established to assist students displaying exceptional academic and leadership ability, Leonard can worry about his schoolwork, rather than his school bills.
He is just one of the 50 percent of current Haverford students who receive financial aid from the College, thanks to a need-blind admission policy that meets the demonstrated financial need of all admitted applicants, regardless of their ability to pay. Since 2007 that policy has included a commitment to offer only grants, instead of loans, to relieve students of the burden of debt in order to expand their career and life options.
"I feel very blessed," says Leonard, who was one of more than 60 students who attended a luncheon for scholarship recipients organized by Janet Heron, director of stewardship, on February 15. "This luncheon provides an opportunity for the College to congratulate recipients and to educate them on the selection process used to award their named scholarships," says Heron. While students munched Boston Pizza and Hope’s Cookies in the Stokes Multicultural Center, they had the opportunity to talk with each other and the staff involved in the financial aid process and celebrate the honor of being chosen to receive one of the College’s more than 225 named scholarships.
But with great honor comes great responsibility, as the students were reminded by Professor of History Paul Smith, who spoke to the assembled group because, as he put it, "I have the honor of occupying the faculty equivalent of a named scholarship, an endowed chair." Smith, who holds the John R. Coleman Professorship in the Social Sciences, urged the students to feel pride in their accomplishment, but to also be humble, and he emphasized that being the beneficiary of someone else’s generosity comes with an obligation to work hard to earn it. "We have to live up to the ideals of our benefactors," he told the students. "And we have to be as worthy of recognition as our predecessors… so we have to work especially hard."
Michael Kiefer, the vice president of institutional advancement, also took to the podium to address the crowd, explaining the financial realities of the College and describing its “deeply held commitment to financial aid.” Of Haverford’s nearly $70 million budget in 2010-2011, for example, more than $18 million is spent on financial aid, said Kiefer. And he described that, in effect, all Haverford students are recipients of financial aid, as the college spends $74,000 per student, but charges only $52,970 tuition, a discrepancy that is filled by the College’s endowment and Annual Fund gifts from alumni, parents and friends of the College. “It’s an investment in Haverford by alumni, parents and friends just as much as it is Haverford's investment in our students,” he said of the scholarships. “Accept it responsibly, and in the future, if you can, pay it forward."
Heron has solicited thank-you notes and questionnaires from the students for their donors, so they can get to know a little bit about the person whose education they are sponsoring. And in the spring, the scholarship recipients will be invited to an event at which they can meet their donors in person. Leonard, for one, is especially looking forward to that. "It's important for the donors to meet the students they support," he says. "And then the students can celebrate the sense of achievement at receiving a scholarship."