Scholarships Fuel Future Opportunities

Miles Pendleton and President Julio Frenk.
By Jennifer Sanchez

Miles Pendleton and President Julio Frenk.

Scholarships Fuel Future Opportunities

By Jennifer Sanchez
Stories of humble beginnings and dreams of opportunity highlighted the importance of a culture of philanthropy across generations during the 11th annual Scholarship Donor Recognition Luncheon.

For Miles Pendleton, a University of Miami Foote Fellow, Ronald A. Hammond Scholar, and freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, the opportunity to attend the University of Miami began long before his journey from Eugene, Oregon, to Miami, Florida. Growing up as a biracial child in a small town, Pendleton craved diversity and exposure to a more global/inclusive perspective. When the opportunity to attend the University of Miami became a reality, Pendleton discovered that the concept of scholarship extends far beyond granting financial stability to pursue an education.

“Dreams of opportunity drove my grandmother to work nine-to-five and overtime cleaning hotel rooms by hand to live in a one room apartment in the poorest area of Harlem,” said Pendleton during his remarks at the luncheon. “Future opportunities for her children and their children are what motivated her throughout her entire life,” he added.

Following a video presentation of scholarship recipients expressing their gratitude to donors, Provost Jeffrey Duerk gave his opening remarks to the 300 donors, students and administrators at the luncheon. Provost Duerk also acknowledged one of the many scholarship donors who turned adversity into legacy. He shared the story of the late Valentina Slom, who was represented at the event by her attorney, Romy Jurado. Through the stewardship efforts of Kyle Paige, senior director of estate and gift planning at UM’s Division of Advancement, Slom named the University as the sole beneficiary of her estate before passing away in 2016. Due to a difficult upbringing in Poland over 90 years ago, Slom never had the opportunity to complete her education.  This motivated her decision to gift more than $550,000—her life savings—to ensure others could succeed.

“Like many of you here today, Valentina saw a way to make a difference, and followed through to make it happen,” said Duerk. “All of our scholarship donors are touching the future. You are helping bright young people pursue their passions, fulfill their potential, and realize their ambitions,” he added.

Also driven by the possibility of bettering the lives of those around them, University trustees and scholarship donors Paul DiMare, Judi Prokop Newman, and H.T. Smith, each shared stories that expressed the importance of giving back and their deeply rooted gratitude to those who have supported the dreams of others.

Following their inspirational stories, students from the department of theatre arts in the College of Arts and Sciences, led by Professor Greg Brown, performed a moving rendition of “Corner of the Sky” from Pippin. Their vocals echoed themes from the unforgettable fable about a quest to find true happiness and fulfillment.

As has become tradition at this luncheon, President Julio Frenk concluded the event and asked students to stand and pledge to support scholarship initiatives after they have graduated. Additionally, he recognized the diverse histories of scholarship donors and trustees that have come together to unveil “elements of generosity,” which ultimately build a meaningful culture of philanthropy.


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