On the morning of Saturday, April 29, CHC students, along with their proud families, gathered in the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall for the Commonwealth Honors College Scholarship Awards Ceremony. This year 194 awards were presented at the College’s annual celebration of student achievement and donor generosity. Commonwealth Honors College scholarships recognize strong academic performance, leadership in community service or in student organizations, participation in athletics or other extracurricular activities, study abroad, and other areas.
Several scholarship donors were on hand to present their awards, many of which pay tribute to beloved faculty, family members, coaches, and programs. Alumna Wendy S. Evans ’79, who established the Evans Family Scholarship for Environmental Conservation with her husband, delivered remarks that spoke to the goals of her philanthropy. She noted that while her husband and family were passionate about the environment, they had never worked in the field. The creation of the Evans Family Scholarship has given “voice and weight to what we are passionate about,” said Ms. Evans. She encouraged the student awardees to “make a plan to pay it forward,” adding, “You don’t have to think hard about what you care about, it’s what you CARE about, so find a way to reward someone younger, smarter, maybe more organized than you are, and help them . . . I really believe that education is our best resources, or a path to a better future.”
Student speaker Timothy Scalona ’20 echoed Evans’s remarks about education as a path to a better future through his own story of family homelessness in the years leading up to his enrollment at UMass Amherst. He said his decision to apply and attend the University gave him “a chance to start over, (a chance) so many others deserve. Education is the key to social mobility, and is the only way for the lowest among us to become something greater than what the world has defined us as.” His scholarship, which will cover the Commonwealth Honors College fee, has already opened doors for him. Instead of working several part-time jobs this summer to cover the fee, Scalona noted that he is now able to “work with a legal advocate that fights to protect the homeless . . . I thank the donors for giving these scholarships in the first place, because any assistance to someone like me makes all the difference.”