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Affording opportunity

By Ashley K. Speed October 21, 2016

For Katelyn Barney ’11 and Julia Burzynski ’17, attending William & Mary would not have been possible without the generosity of donors.

Barney and Burzynski spoke during the Scholarships Luncheon last week and are among the hundreds of William & Mary students who benefit from scholarships annually. Both were awarded scholarships funded by Peter Atwater ’83 and Janet Rollins Atwater ’84, who are also parents of two current William & Mary students. 

The Atwaters' scholarships have benefited 63 students since the couple requested money for William & Mary scholarships in lieu of wedding gifts more than 20 years ago. President Taylor Reveley and Provost Michael Halleran also made remarks during the luncheon, which was attended by more than 350 scholarship recipients, donors, faculty and staff. 

Barney came to William & Mary as a transfer student from New Jersey. When she was a little girl, Barney said she recalls her late grandfather saying she could do anything in life if armed with a degree from William & Mary.

“During my time at William & Mary I tried to explore all this campus had to offer,” Barney said. “I learned new perspectives, new traditions and new cultures, and I’m so much better for it…Thanks to the Atwaters, I was able to come to William & Mary as an out-of-state student without putting financial burden on my family or myself.”

Burzynski spoke about finding her place at William & Mary and being nervous about her first big assignment. She transformed her nervousness into hard work and aced it.

“A scholarship is more than a contribution, it’s an opportunity,” Burzynski said. “It is through scholarships that students like myself are afforded the opportunity to pursue their passions. Thank you for the opportunity you’ve given me and the students sitting beside you. You afford us the opportunity to do great things.”

Michael Powell ’85, D.P.S. ’02, president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, closed the luncheon by talking about the door of opportunity that scholarships represent for those not able to afford higher education.  

“In our society, that door is the gateway to the American dream and if it remains shut, that is a dream that will be unrealized and a life that will be substantially more impoverished than it would have been before… you’re doing more than putting money into the pockets of these kids,” Powell said. “You are planting seeds of hope and ambition in their hearts, and for that there will be a special place for you in heaven.”  

Watch the video below of Powell's remarks during the luncheon.