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Students and scholarship donors meet face to face at celebratory dinner

Students take part in an icebreaker activity at the 10th Annual Entrance Scholarship Dinner.

By Geoff Ash

Memorial University's entrance scholarship donors experienced the result of their generous gifts first-hand at a dinner in St. John's recently.

More than 300 first-year students from around the world and 50 donors from local, national and international groups, foundations and businesses mingled together at the Annual Entrance Scholarship Dinner on Nov. 14. Hosted by the office of scholarships and awards within Student Affairs and Services, the event is a way of thanking the donors and saying congratulations to the student scholarship recipients.

Now in its 10th year, the event has evolved into a full-scale formal dinner, which is a much improved layout for the celebration, says Cheryl Peckham, undergraduate scholarships officer.

"It started as a lunch in the dining hall, and because it was held during the day we had one hour to get them in, fed, speeches and out," she said. "This is our second year holding the dinner, and it's a much more relaxed atmosphere. The students and donors actually have time to have a conversation."

Sean Kennedy, recipient of the Dr. Leslie Harris Memorial University Alumni Association Scholarship, was one of the students who attended the event.

"It's always encouraging to be rewarded for the work and effort that you put into something," he said. "This scholarship now allows me to experience all that post-secondary education has to offer, such as getting involved on campus and rigorous academics, without even having to think or worry about where the money is going to come from to pay for it."

Many donors have participated in the event since the first year it was held, and are grateful for both the opportunity to provide the scholarships and to meet the student winners. Among those is Frank Fry, executive director of the Fry Family Foundation.

"We've been there since day one," he said. "We're proud to be able to give back to Memorial, and help out the students and at the same time recognize people who have been important in our lives through these scholarships. They do a fantastic job of seating the donors with the students who receive their scholarships, so it's always interesting to hear their stories, what they hope to do and how the scholarship is helping them."

This year's event also marks the first awarding of Aboriginal student specific entrance scholarships.