On March 28, some of the College’s longest-standing financial aid supporters and the students who benefit from their generosity came together for the annual Dean’s Scholarship Reception. The event was held in Low Rotunda, where the prolonged early spring light cast a glow on the evening’s festivities.
The purpose of this event — which was attended by nearly 300 of the College’s donors, students and staff — was to connect and take inspiration from one another. Three generations of Columbians took the stage after Dean Josef Sorett, who was hosting the reception for the first time as dean. Sorett gave welcome remarks in which he recognized the tangible outcomes of financial aid support — $150 million awarded every year to College students — as well as the intangible reward of fostering lasting relationships within the Columbia community. The College has more than 900 named scholarships, which are the cornerstone of its need-based and full-need financial aid program.
Sue Yang CC’10, a longtime supporter of financial aid, reminded students about their potential, quoting Eminem and Mary Oliver in asking what they intended to do with their “one shot,” their “one wild and precious life.”
Malia Dills CC’23, who received the Anthony and Amy Tutrone Family Scholarship Fund throughout her time as an undergraduate, followed. She noted that she had the great fortune of becoming acquainted with her donors from her first year, which helped her transition from Hawaii to her life in New York. “Even after I found a job, Anthony and Amy have continued being important mentors in my life. They have taken a genuine interest in seeing me succeed, and their confidence in me has given me the courage to pursue my interests,” Dills said.
Anthony Tutrone CC’86 then took the stage; he and his wife, Amy, established their family scholarship fund in 2019. Tutrone said he also had been a financial aid recipient, and that the funding he received as a student continues to shape his life and his family’s lives: “Because of people like you,” he said, addressing the donors, “my parents were able to send me and my brother to college even though our family income was below the poverty line. Because of people like you, my wife and I have been able to take care of my parents as they’ve aged. And because of people like you, my wife and I can support financial aid for other promising students like Malia and Christhian [Salazar CC’23, their second scholarship recipient].”
Dinner was accompanied by the music of a jazz trio; meanwhile, students and donors got to know each other over their meals. One student regaled her donor with the details of a class presentation she had given earlier that day on archaeology in New Mexico. Another, struck by Tutrone’s testimony, reflected on the trajectory of his life. “For me, [Tutrone] embodied the very essence of what Columbia is all about: coming from a below-poverty family to climb to the pinnacle of the American financial markets. Truly a Columbian story.”
View photos from the evening.