Alumna Makes Reunion Gift to Scholarships to Advance Diversity and Equity at Scripps

Carolyn Holm ’70 has made a major gift to supply need-based scholarship aid to Scripps students.

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By Emily Glory Peters

In recent years, expanding scholarship aid has emerged as a strategic priority for Scripps College—and one that our alumnae have championed as their own. It’s largely alum gifts that have accelerated scholarships’ rise as one of the College’s top giving areas, in turn ushering a more diverse array of students through Denison’s doors to begin their Scripps journeys.

Appreciating this clear link between scholarships and student diversity—plus wanting to honor her reunion year in a meaningful way—is what ultimately prompted Carolyn Holm ’70 to endow a scholarship this spring.

“Before I came to Scripps, I lived in a small town that actually had a wide mix of people from different financial and ethnic backgrounds. It was so valuable to grow up in that environment,” says Holm. “Scholarships help students at Scripps study alongside students whose life experiences are different from theirs—that diversity benefits everyone.”

Holm’s belief in women-centered education also influenced her decision to give. For her, enrolling at a women’s college was partially a family affair—her mom, sister, aunt, and cousin all attended Mills College—and in their shared experience she witnessed the confidence-building power of a women’s education. She broke with the Mills family tradition because she “fell in love with the humanities program at Scripps, the beauty of the school, and because hey, it was further from home!”

Holm during her sophomore year at Scripps.

At Scripps, Holm shares that she was able to overcome her shyness and connect with like-minded young women. “It’s not as though you never encounter guys at Scripps—but it was just so liberating to be in an environment where we could share our intellect without the constant presence of the male voice, the male gaze, and male energy,” she says. “I loved the idea of a women’s college and valued being able to choose peers from other women who loved learning, literature, and art.”

Inspired in part by these bonds, Holm chose to establish her scholarship in tandem with her class’s 50th reunion—and she’s not alone in her generosity. Many Scripps alums celebrate their reunions by creating funds named for their graduation year, with classes spanning the last five decades endowing no fewer than 12 new scholarships.

Holm’s scholarship also joins the many that were established under the Presidential Scholarship Initiative, a multimillion dollar project aimed at providing full-grant and reduced-loan support to Scripps students with demonstrated need. Gifts from Holm, alums, and others have helped the initiative exceed its initial fundraising goal of $10 million—allowing Scripps to increase the number of loan-free financial aid packages awarded from one percent to 10 percent of the student body.

Both larger individual donations and the collective power of smaller gifts advance Scripps’ efforts to become a more diverse, equitable institution. Being endowed, Holm’s scholarship will provide stable funding for years to come, furnishing a broader group of students with a Scripps experience with less financial stress. Whether endowed or not, however, Holm notes that gifts of any amount make a meaningful difference for everyone involved.

“There are two sides to the scholarship story—on one hand to benefit the College with greater diversity, and on the other to profoundly change the life of the individual who receives it. Both sides of this story are essential,” she says. “My personal philosophy is that if five dollars is what you can give to change someone’s life, do it!”