Unity Through Scholarship

January 31, 2002

 

After September 11, there were many responses from students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Whether throwing fund-raisers for the United Way or the New York Fireman's Fund, selling flag pins and ribbons on the Bryan Center walkway, attending forums and classes, or holding vigils of peace or remembrance, the Duke community came together to work for others.

A group of Duke students wanted to capture that feeling of unity and of helping the survivors of the terrorist attacks. The students worked with Duke administrators to develop The Americanism Scholarship, an endowed fund that will provide scholarships in lieu of the loan normally included in need-based aid to students affected by the events of September 11 who demonstrate a need. Those eligible to compete for the scholarship are children of alumni lost in the disasters, children who lost an immediate family member, or students from lower Manhattan public high schools. The Americanism Scholars will be asked to write two essays on "Americanism" during their Duke career, to be placed in an archive.

Seniors Courtney Spence and Scott Goodwin developed the idea with Duke Student Government president C.J. Walsh, and have spearheaded the development of the scholarship. An initial e-mail message sent to various administrators led to a meeting, at which Spence and Goodwin were surprised to be joined by senior officials from development, public affairs, and financial aid. "It was great, because they never said, 'Is this the right thing to do?'," Spence says. "Instead, it was, 'We're going to do this, so how do we do it?'"

Spence and Goodwin were invited to attend a meeting of the Duke Financial Partners Group in Manhattan as part of a visit from President Nannerl O. Keohane. During that trip, the two also met with Keat Crown '00, a former Duke lacrosse captain who escaped from the higher floors of the World Trade Center on September 11, and enlisted his support.

"This has been student-initiated, but it's a combined effort," Goodwin says, citing such requirements of establishing the scholarship as university support, fund raising, and the need to establish the basic $100,000 endowment. "It's the Duke community coming together."