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Power Lunch: Scholarship Recipients, Donors Celebrated

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Student speaker Diana Yassenye talks with Professor John Allegrante and scholarship donor Lenny Sacks

Student speaker Diana Yassenye talks with Professor John Allegrante and scholarship donor Lenny Sacks

Bringing together scholarship students and the benefactors who make their education possible can inspire both groups, but in many cases such meetings never happen. In April, Teachers College hosted a donor luncheon at the Columbia-Princeton Club that solved this problem, allowing scholarship recipients and their generous financial supporters the opportunity to meet face to face.

As students and donors mingled, several speakers, including representatives for both the students and scholarship donors gave testament to the good that scholarships can do, both from the perspective of the giver and recipient.

TC President Arthur Levine began the event on an upbeat note, saying that the scholarship luncheon was his favorite event of the year, and noting that TC's recent capital campaign had raised $29 million for new scholarships.

Nevertheless, Levine said, what stands out is how much TC has left to do. "If we're going to attract the best and brightest," he said, "we should not ask students to turn down far richer options."

Levine said that the number of lives TC students touch is one of the most exciting parts of his job. "Every time we educate a student who goes and becomes an elementary teacher, we have the capacity to change 500 lives." He told the donors that people who will never know their names are grateful for the way they are touched by the donors' gifts.

Levine introduced Elizabeth Whitten, who graduated from TC in 1997 and has created the Whitten Family Scholarship Fund with her husband. Whitten spoke about the lessons she learned at TC and as a second grade teacher. TC made an impact on her life from her first course to her last, she said. When she graduated, Whitten "had no doubt that I was leaving with the tools to be a good teacher," she said. "My husband and I are very lucky that we are able to provide support" to future students who will enrich others' lives as teachers.

Joe Brosnan, TC's Vice President of Development and External Affairs, listed several new and extended scholarships from the gifts of private donors. He then introduced donor Leonard Sacks and one of his sponsored students, Diana Yassanye, who spoke on behalf of the recipients.

Yassanye, a master's candidate, studies full-time and works for nonprofit youth organization Girls, Inc. She has 10 years experience working with adolescent sexual health, including work in Turkey and France, where she developed a sexual health curriculum used by a university. While here, she has founded TC Students for Sexual Health, and feels that she has found her place. "For the first time ever, I have school spirit," she said.

Yassanye noted that donor support motivates students like her to reach their potential. TC, she said, has enabled her to combine her life and career training into a concentrated focus. "With your support," she told the donors, "students can work toward paradigms of better education."

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