University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Giving thanks for scholarships

Mary Jane Dickerson
Through her teaching and her scholarship support, Mary Jane Dickerson has helped generations of UVM students learn and grow. Photograph by Sally McCay

ALUMNI CONNECTION

Giving thanks for scholarships

The University of Vermont raised nearly $8 million in scholarship support from alumni and other private donors last year, and the eighth annual “Celebrating Scholarship” dinner in April provided a moment for grateful students to say thanks. About 130 students and 170 benefactors attended the dinner in the Davis Center.

Among the scholarship recipients attending was Kane Tobin, a junior enrolled in the School of Business Administration. Tobin is a twenty-eight-year-old U.S. Army veteran who served two deployments in Afghanistan following high school in Hyannis, Massachusetts.

Thanks to scholarship support from alumnus John Frank ’79 and a Yellow Ribbon Scholarship awarded by UVM, matched by the U.S. Veterans Administration, Tobin will be nearly debt-free when he graduates next spring. “Receiving a scholarship drives me to work harder and to continue to be deserving of that gift,” Tobin said.

The event was sponsored by the University of Vermont Foundation with President Tom Sullivan and Leslie Black Sullivan ’77. It featured remarks by Sullivan; Mary Jane Dickerson, associate professor of English emerita and a long-time supporter of scholarships for UVM students; and third-year medical student Raj Thakrar, a student member of the UVM Board of Trustees.

Dickerson, a long-time champion of diversity at UVM, established a scholarship in 2007 to support English majors. She read a “prose poem” she composed for the occasion that alluded to the long struggle for civil rights in America. She ended, poignantly, with the names of students who have benefited from her scholarship. “The list of names on the Mary Jane Dickerson Fund will far outlast me,” she said. “Just as I had planned.”

Medical student Raj Thakrar, a former Medical Alumni Association Scholarship recipient and current Austin W. Lane & Janet C. Lane Scholar, said his reaction upon learning that he would receive scholarship support was to think about what he could do to reciprocate.

“It was more than just financial aid that would lessen the burden for my mother,” he said. “It was a catalyst for making a commitment to return the favor to this excellent institution.” He said he made a gift to the university as soon as he was able and urged his fellow students to consider doing the same. “Give back,” he said. “Your scholarship may not need to be paid back, but you can pay it forward.”

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