Sorry, if you were thinking that Rotary finally eradicated Polio, unfortunately we’re still “this close.” I was speaking of Rotary District 7620’s goal of funding a $500,000 Rotary scholarship fund to support the education of students at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. Many know Gallaudet as the leading educational institution in world for the deaf. I was proud to attend this year’s awards luncheon, where District Governor, Bill Fine, announced that we reached our goal. Here’s some background on this incredible achievement:
The Rotary District 7620 Gallaudet scholarship fund was founded in 1974 and has supported the education of more than 250 students. Former PDG, J. Roland Cumberland served as DG in 1973-1974 and former Rotarian, Henry Tate, member of the Potomac Rotary Club, served as the founding Chairman of the Endowment. In addition to seeing the development of the scholarship program, Henry led the District in funding an educational center on campus.
Over the decades the endowment for Gallaudet has been supported by many individual clubs in the District and for the past three years the District has provided $10,000 in matching funds to help meet our goal. This year’s banquet program lists 26 different clubs as donors. This was my second year attending the annual awards luncheon, and I can report that it is simply not possible to be around the scholarship recipients at Gallaudet without being amazed at their enthusiasm and accomplishments. Instead of me trying to explain the excitement of the moment, here is PDG, and long-time Scholarship Chair, Pat Kasuda, giving you her take on the proceedings:
For me, a highlight of the luncheon, other than getting to know the scholars, is the performance of the Gallaudet Dance Company. These woman are amazing dancers. When you consider that they dance without being able to hear the music….well….it’s truly remarkable. Here is a short clip of Gallaudet dancers Emily Catalfamo, Pershea Jefferson, Rhiannon LeLievre, Jessica Nortey, Janejera Rungreang, and Tanisha Russell, performing “Singing in the Rain:”
I thought perhaps the best way to give you an idea of just how great this event is, is to give some of the scholars a chance to say thank you to Rotary on video. So here are three of this year’s fourteen scholarship recipients, Jazzmin Washington, Kyle Murphy, and Lucy Upah, telling you in their own words (signs) about their journey at Gallaudet. (Translations provided below each clip.)
“Hello, My name is Jazzmin Washington. I am a sophomore at Gallaudet University. I’m pursuing a double major in Biology and Chemistry. My inspiration comes from my mother, who has suffered from leukemia since I was 7. Due to this, I have an aspiration to attend medical school and become an anesthesiologist. When I’m not studying, I am reading, or participating on the Gallaudet women’s basketball team. I also work as the Hours Program Student Assistant in my free time.”
“Hello, my name is Kyle Murphy. I’m a grad student from Baton Rouge, Louisiana studying for my master’s in social work. I want to thank all of you for the Rotary scholarship and for supporting Gallaudet University and our community.”
“Hello, my name is Lucy Upah. I am from Nigeria in Africa. I am here as a 2nd year student of MPA in Gallaudet University. I am very happy to receive the Rotary award. It’s a huge help/support for my studies. Thank you, Rotary!”
So what do you think of these students? And what do you think of our District accomplishing our objective after FOURTY YEARS! It kind of makes you feel a little better about committing to a three-year strategic plan in our Rotary clubs, doesn’t it?
Thanks to everyone who helped to fund this project over the years. And thanks to our hardworking scholarship committee, who meets to carefully evaluate the scholarship applications each year.
DG, Bill Fine, in his remarks at the luncheon, said that for him, this event is one of the highlights of the year. It’s easy to see why. So…now that we got this Gallaudet scholarship program out of the way, can we lick this Polio thing once and for all?
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