Scholarship winner knows he stands on the shoulders of benefactors from long ago

Economics major Henry Twagirayezu was awarded the Alexander B. Berry Jr./Parrish Memorial Endowed Scholarship for his senior year.

SUMMARY: Winner of student scholarship is grateful for the generosity of donors who made it all possible.

By David Doremus

Henry Twagirayezu may know better than most what it means to be lifted from the depths of despair by the kindness of strangers. Twagirayezu, a senior from Leesburg, VA, majoring in economics, is the recipient of the Alexander B. Berry Jr./Parrish Memorial Endowed Scholarship for the current academic year.

It remains a source of amazement to him that unknown benefactors would make such a generous investment in him. What kind of person, he wonders, is moved to make that kind of difference in the life of someone to whom he will likely ever remain a stranger?

The scholarly literature on charitable giving points toward a number of motivational factors, including worthiness of the cause, personal interest and a sense of community obligation. And, in Twagirayezu’s case, perhaps, a perception of real need among otherwise qualified students for whom the Madison Experience is out of reach without significant financial assistance.

"I lost my financial aid due to a change in my status," Twagirayezu explains. The surprise setback left his ability to pay for his final two semesters of college very much in doubt. Something he never had to worry about before suddenly became a cause of deep concern. So, when he got word he had been named the recipient of the scholarship, it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

The scholarship has allowed Twagirayezu to focus on his day-to-day schoolwork and on the many other opportunities JMU offers. "Without it, I would instead be trying to figure out how to pay for my schooling," he says. Twagirayezu’s family, let alone Twagirayezu himself, would never have been able to make up the difference, he says. The scholarship has also freed him to take advantage of college resources like the Office of Professional Development and Engagement.

Twagirayezu is deeply grateful to staff members in the OPDE for helping him navigate the job market. He believes their wise counsel and energetic coaching were of critical importance to his being offered an internship after graduation with Northrop Grumman Corp., one of the world’s leading aerospace and defense firms. “I corresponded with OPDE for months,” Twagirayezu says, in order to determine where he should apply and how to go about it. “They worked so hard to put me in touch with JMU alumni working in the field of economics—many of whom I am still in touch with today,” he says.

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Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Last Updated: Monday, January 8, 2024

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