One by one the names were announced on Friday, and after each came the roar of happiness from more than 200 people within Dougherty Family College’s commons. It was with good reason: Dougherty Family College (DFC) Dean Alvin Abraham announced 10 students selected for full-tuition scholarships to pursue their bachelor's degrees at St. Thomas.
Smiles, hugs, laughter and tears were all over the room as the recipients stepped forward to be recognized and celebrated.
"It was pretty wild," Andrea Mena Rodriguez said of hearing her name called. "I’m really excited. I will work really hard and take advantage of this scholarship."
"It means a lot to have this support and continue on with the hard work," Xavier Abdullahi said. "I’m doing it all so I can be an example for my siblings, other students here. To have this to show for all the hard work, they can see the hard work does pay off."
Scholarship recipients hugged Sullivan, Mike and Kathy Dougherty, Abraham and each other after each of their names were called. Their classmates soon gathered around them and celebrated as the reality of their continued path at St. Thomas sunk in. The scholarships were possible through the generous donations of the Ryan/Sterbenz Estate and Gene and Mary Frey.
"We heard story after story of amazing things our young scholars have dedicated themselves to in getting to where they are today, and to continue as they keep moving forward," Abraham said of students' applications for the scholarships.
“We’re so proud of what you have accomplished, what each and every one of you have overcome, digging deep at times, to now be in a position to graduate from the Dougherty Family College,” President Julie Sullivan said to all the DFC students gathered for Friday’s ceremony. “Our expectation is that you continue on the next leg of this journey (toward a bachelor’s degree). … We care about all of you, and will work hard to make sure all of you have a financial feasible path to continue your education.”
The 10 scholarship recipients are:
- Mortaza Ahmady
- Leslie Nicolas
- Sahra Warsame
- Mesum Haider
- Kelly Ordonez-Saybe
- Xavier Abdullahi
- Renee Sande
- Kevin Santiago-Martinez
- Isabel Abarca-MacPhee
- Andrea Mena Rodriguez
All DFC students who earned a 3.0 or higher grade-point average have the opportunity to pursue their bachelor’s degree at St. Thomas with an enhanced financial aid package, part of the university’s overall efforts amidst a $200 million campaign to increase scholarships and affordability for all students.
As the entire inaugural class of DFC approaches commencement in May, Abraham called out to every student in the room.
“You are all incredible, incredible students. I know you will do incredible things wherever you continue on,” he said. “I want to reiterate that and that we’re celebrating all 24 of our applicants (for these scholarships) today.”
DFC’s commencement is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on May 26 in James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall in the Anderson Student Center.