Let me start with a confession – I’m much more accustomed to writing the stories of other Bulldogs than my own. But I recognize each of us has our own Redlands story, a personal narrative that connects us to this special place.
During my junior year in 2001, I received a letter notifying me that I was the recipient of the Knights/Saunders Family Endowed Scholarship. Tuition was definitely a sacrifice for me and my family, so this was welcome news. During the next two years, I met several times with the generous donors of this award, Bruce ’55 and Sallye ’55 Henry. I did my best to express my immense gratitude, because Bruce and Sallye had helped to give me the most meaningful of gifts: the gift of a Redlands education, and the myriad experiences that came along with it.
By maximizing every moment of my time at Redlands, I endeavored to prove that I was worthy of their investment. I double majored in English Literature and Religious Studies, defending honors theses in both departments. I wrote for The Bulldog Weekly. I gave campus tours as an Admissions Host. I joined a sorority. I studied abroad in Salzburg. I secured two internships through the Office of Community Service Learning that set forth my career pathway in the nonprofit sector.
At Commencement, Bruce and Sallye sent me a thoughtful card I have treasured, rereading it many times. Over the years, I pondered the Henrys’ investment and wondered if they realized its ripple effect as I went to work for nonprofit organizations in the arts, social services, and education. Bruce and Sallye invested in me through this scholarship, and in turn, also were investing in the lives of those served by my professional work.
When I came back home to Redlands as a staff member three years ago, I brought that card from Bruce and Sallye to my office in the Administration Building, along with a photo of us taken at a scholarship event. One of the first calls I made as a member of the Advancement team was to Bruce (sadly, Sallye passed away in 2010). We reconnected and I thanked him again for what he did for me and what he was continuing to do for current Bulldog students through his philanthropy. When we reunited in person at Homecoming that October, it was a powerful moment in my life, enhanced by introducing Bruce to the newest Knights/Saunders recipient I helped to select. As part of my role, I had the amazing opportunity to manage the very same endowed scholarship program of which I was once a beneficiary.
Next year I am celebrating my 15th class reunion. Every single day I am grateful for the gift I received thanks to Bruce and Sallye, just as I am grateful for all donors who are making a Redlands education possible for our students.
On October 28, we will officially launch the largest fundraising campaign in our University’s history, and many of these gifts will directly benefit student scholarships and financial aid. The launch will be part of Homecoming & Parents Weekend, from October 27–29.
I am just one of the Bulldogs who can attest to what a scholarship can do, and there are so many more stories to tell. What’s yours?