“So this is like an adopt-a-student program,” said Lindsey Hollin, C’00, when a representative of Sewanee approached her about setting up a Cornerstone Scholarship. That idea appealed to Hollin, and she agreed to make a four-year commitment at $5,000 per year, which will allow her to not only support a Sewanee student, but follow that student’s Sewanee career, through letters and a stewardship luncheon and other opportunities.
Cornerstone Scholarships are established at the $5,000 and $10,000 level. Donors who make a four-year commitment can “name” the scholarship, with the Cornerstone scholarship a part of a specific student’s financial aid package. At the $10,000 per year level, donors are able to add preferences, such as academic interest or geographic origin of the student. (Follow this link to make a gift.)
“I think the Cornerstone Scholarship is such a great idea, and I am in a place where I can do that for a Sewanee student,” Hollin says. “I was able to go to Sewanee without paying the bill for it. A lot of students don’t have that opportunity without being stressed or amassing a lot of student loan debt. I just hope to help alleviate those things through my gift.”
After graduating from Sewanee, Hollin earned a J.D. from St. Mary’s University and spent time working for a law firm with offices in the United States and Mexico. A fluent Spanish speaker, Hollin translated legal documents, but she began to think about more opportunities to interact with people. “You know, when you sit behind a desk and you pore over documents, that can be isolating,” she says. “I found that I really need to be around people, and I also found I really enjoy teaching.” Hollin trained in teaching English as a second language and started teaching ESL at San Antonio College. Then, because of her law background, the school tapped her to teach criminal justice.
“A good percentage of my students are taking criminal justice because they are curious,” says Hollin. “It’s an elective for them, and they just think it might be interesting.” A fair number of Hollin's students are drawn to criminal justice because they have seen police procedural shows like CSI on television, and they think they might like to do something like that. “I tell them that CSI is not nearly as exciting as on TV. They may rarely see an actual crime scene.”
Other students are heading into law enforcement or are thinking about careers in agencies such as the border patrol or Texas Parks and Recreation. “The education program also steers a fair number of students my way,” she says. “A part of the course goes over constitutional rights, and that is a good discussion for educators, and it just rounds out their broader understanding of society.”
While Cornerstone scholarships are not new, they have been reconfigured in 2016-17 to anchor a change in the way the University of the South handles Sewanee Fund donations. In the past, gifts to the Sewanee Annual Fund were made to general support. After many conversations and consulting with colleagues from other institutions, the Sewanee Fund staff proposed to that any gift to current operations—including Cornerstone Scholarships—be part of the Sewanee Fund. Sewanee Fund donors have the option of providing general support or designating gifts for scholarships, internships, research projects, civic engagement activities, our athletic teams, and other programs—thus aligning philanthropy with the donor’s interests.
Fifteen alumni and other friends have established named Cornerstone Scholarships since the program began in fall 2016. “We are finding this opportunity for immediate impact is something many donors find attractive,” notes Robert Black, assistant vice-president for advancement. “We and they like the way we are able to connect people through the act of philanthropy that makes the gift so much more meaningful.”
A major priority of Stronger Truer Sewanee—The Campaign for the University of the South is building substantial new resources for financial aid. “We have had wonderful donors step up to build our scholarship endowment,” says Black. “The Cornerstone Scholarship will be another critical piece of the funding for Sewanee students in the coming years, and we hope many will want to get behind this program.”
“I can do that,” Hollin had told the Sewanee representative. An educator herself, Hollin believes most people can benefit from a college degree, and she is happy to do her part to ensure access and opportunity for a Sewanee student over the next four years.