As alumni, many seek to return the favor — and help future generations of students — by honoring their favorite professors with scholarships in their name.
The list of named Willamette scholarship funds is long. But for these funds to award scholarships each year, they need to total at least $50,000. That’s the minimum amount necessary to ensure that at least $2,500 in scholarships can be awarded annually. Donations large or small can help scholarship funds reach the $50,000 level. Possibilities abound to add to existing funds that honor someone who might have also been your favorite person on campus.
These scholarships are a wonderful way to help students for years to come. In 1976 Mark Teppola ’60 and his wife, Melody, established the Dr. Ivan Lovell History Scholarship. Mark Teppola, a University trustee, wanted to honor Professor Lovell, who taught history at Willamette from 1937–66. Thirty-one years after the Teppolas made the gift, this endowed scholarship still helps young history majors pay for their education. Two students received the Lovell Scholarship this year: Amanda Strauss ’08 and Anna Travers ’08.
“It means a lot to me to have a scholarship donated by an alumnus because it shows how close the Willamette community is, even after graduation,” says Strauss, who plans to pursue a PhD in history. “I hope someday I can give back in the same way.”
Travers is considering becoming a history teacher. “It was really encouraging to get this scholarship,” she says. “It gave me confidence that I can contribute something to the history field.”
One fund still needing support is the Donald R. Breakey Biology Centennial Scholarship. When Breakey ’50, a beloved biology professor, passed away in 2003, the biology faculty created the scholarship in his honor, incorporating memorial gifts made since his death.
But for the scholarship to reach the $50,000 level, more donations were needed. Help came during this fall’s Biology Centennial celebration. Mark and Joan Miller, both Class of ’77, donated $10,000, and Carole (Larsen) Thomas ’66 gave another $10,000. Thomas and Mark Miller were both biology majors.
Thomas fondly recalls Breakey as her favorite professor. She strongly suspects Breakey helped her obtain a grant while she was a student, allowing her to stay in school at a time when money was tight in her family. “He was willing to give people chances they might not have otherwise had. In his honor, I wanted to contribute to a fund that would do likewise.”
Thanks to these recent gifts and others, the Breakey scholarship fund has reached approximately $44,000 — just $6,000 short of the $50,000 goal. Many other honorary scholarship funds need donations to reach the $50,000 level. For a list of others, go to www.willamette.edu/go/namedscholarships. For information on how to donate, contact Mari Sue Johnson at 503-370-6740 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I grew up hearing stories about Willamette. My grandma, Joan Kathan ’48, still talks about studying music here and meeting my grandfather, Charles Zerzan ’48, when he came to campus after fighting in World War II. My father, Terry Zerzan ’78, talks about running with his friend Brock Hinzmann ’76, and now I know what it’s like to run here, too.
The Willamette family tradition is a lot to live up to — my grandparents, my father, four of my 11 aunts and uncles. I considered the University of California system, but they’re all about weeding out, where Willamette is all about nurturing. For me, Willamette is about family, and it’s about running, but mostly it’s the academics that brought me here. I’m a student first.
I can joke about being the “dumb jock” in the family, because my father is an aerospace engineer, my late mother spoke seven languages, and my grandfather Zerzan is a doctor and cared for President Eisenhower. I’m finding my own way. I’ve always been fascinated with how the world works — and that’s science. So I’m majoring in biochemistry and minoring in Spanish. I traveled to Costa Rica with the Organization of Tropical Studies and studied the effects of dietary change in indigenous populations. Three other students and I founded a Willamette chapter of the Student Global AIDS Campaign — we’re the only university chapter in the region, so last fall we hosted a Pacific Northwest Summit on World AIDS Day to build momentum. I hope to go to medical school and become a pediatrician.
I also grew up with the Willamette running tradition. I met Coach Charles Bowles, a Willamette legend, when I was one year old. My father, who still holds the Willamette marathon record, calls that my first recruiting trip. I never realized how amazing the running was, however, until I became part of the program. Running has given me more opportunities to excel and to meet some of my closest friends. I enjoy being able to be both a serious student and a competitive athlete, a combination that’s difficult to pursue at most other institutions.
I’m proud to go to Willamette and to be part of family history and University history, too. A lot of schools don’t have enough pride and history to make giving a tradition like we do here. Every year, gifts from alumni add up to cover a third of every student’s costs — a third. Your gifts really do make a difference, no matter how much or how little. So thank you for helping me carry on the family tradition. We can all take pride in being part of the Willamette family.
Sarah Zerzan ’08
NCAA Division III National Cross Country Champion