Lafayette College celebrated its 13th Scholarship Recognition Dinner on Friday, Feb. 23, uniting generous donors with bright and deserving students who benefit from their philanthropy.
One of the featured speakers was Andrea Killian ’19, who shared her inspirational story with attendees, delivering a touching speech that showcased the impact of her academic scholarship. In addition to receiving the Marquis Fellowship, a merit-based scholarship, Killian also was awarded the Frederick S. Benson ’26 Scholarship, established by the family of the late Frederick Benson.
As a senior in high school, Killian, admitted she was “afraid to fall in love with Lafayette” because she knew she would not be able to attend without financial aid. “I am here as a direct result of the generosity of Mr. Benson’s son and his family who established this scholarship in his father’s honor,” said Killian during her speech. “It is because of the chance that the Benson family took, the chance to help a student like me, that I felt financially comfortable taking a chance on Lafayette. Mr. Benson, I am so grateful for the way in which you have chosen to remember your father. Your generosity has been the catalyst that has made my dream possible.”
Killian, who is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in history, explains that the small liberal arts nature of Lafayette has afforded her many opportunities including the chance to participate in research. “At a larger university, I might be washing beakers,” says Killian. “Here, I have been working in a lab conducting actual research since January of my freshman year.”
The focus of Killian’s research—chaperone protein requirements for the propagation of yeast prions—is critical. Yeast prions are amyloid aggregates, following a similar structure to plaques found in patients with Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. Killian’s research could one day impact treatment for similar neurodegenerative diseases. Her research came to fruition through a chance conversation with one of her chemistry professors, Justin Hines, associate professor of chemistry, who has been studying the relationship between chaperone proteins and yeast prions since 2007. Killian hopes to continue her research in Hines’ lab until she graduates and plans to advance her career in biochemistry in the pharmaceutical industry.
Currently, nearly half the student body is receiving Lafayette-funded grants and/or scholarships. More than $8.2 million of the College’s $47 million financial aid budget is allocated through 600 named scholarships, which are part of the endowment or funded through restricted annual gifts. These named scholarships reflect the generosity of many alumni and friends who are committed to keeping a Lafayette education within reach of the most deserving students, regardless of their financial circumstances.
President Alison Byerly made a bold decision in 2016 to launch a strategic direction to enhance Lafayette’s affordability and distinctiveness through growth. To support this effort, she initiated the President’s Challenge for Financial Aid with the goal of raising $85 million, through the Live Connected Lead Change campaign. Byerly recently participated in fun videos to promote the President’s Challenge for the second year in a row. Upping her game, she challenged faculty and staff to a lip syncing contest by lip syncing “Guns and Ships” from the musical Hamilton.
During the evening, Sebastian Crapanzano ’97, who is currently serving as chair of the Annual Fund, also spoke about the importance of financial aid. Sebastian and his wife, Elisa Crapanzano ’97, created a scholarship to support students with financial need. Crapanzano was a recipient of financial aid during his time at Lafayette and recognizes the power of scholarships for students who do not have the means to afford a Lafayette education. Their scholarship—the Sebastian J. and Elisa B. Crapanzano ’97 Scholarship Fund–is one of many in the College’s endowment that are providing a foundation on which to bring the best students to College Hill.