By Emily Glory Peters
Raised in Mill Valley, a small town tucked between San Francisco and Napa Valley, California, Raven Twilling ’22 knew her family was “something of an outlier.” Most of the people Twilling knew growing up were from affluent two-parent homes, who never questioned how they would pay for college. As the junior explains, that wasn’t her experience.
“My two siblings and I grew up with a single mom, a psychologist, with a single income. She always valued education as a top priority and worked extremely hard to send all three of us to college,” says Twilling. Upon settling on Scripps as her top choice, however, she knew she would need financial support beyond what her family could provide to make her aspirations a reality. Scholarships made the difference.
Twilling is one of several students who has received an award from the Presidential Scholarship Initiative (PSI)—an ambitious project launched by President Lara Tiedens in 2017. The initiative, which just hit its initial $10 million dollar goal, seeks to provide full tuition grants to students with the highest need and offer reduced-loan financial aid packages for other qualifying students. The PSI is unique in that donors can set up a named scholarship under the fund with a larger gift, while “pooled” smaller gifts can be harnessed and similarly invested to aid students in perpetuity. Though newly endowed, the PSI has already impacted roughly 10 percent of Scripps’ students—laying the groundwork for a more diverse student body.
“I know first hand how necessary these scholarships are, because in addition to being a recipient, I’m privileged to have support from my family. If I’m dependent on financial aid, I can’t imagine how many others need this kind of help,” says Twilling. She’s been encouraged seeing scholarship aid rise in popularity among Scripps donors, adding, “the fact that people want to give back and care about making Scripps a more inclusive, accessible space speaks to the core values of our College.”
The notion of expanding access is something Twilling has come to deeply value during her time at Scripps. As a biology major with a minor in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, her academic interests have centered on helping communities overcome healthcare inequities. She’s serving as the community coordinator for The Claremont Colleges Planned Parenthood Chapter and has been working with the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN) in her hometown to raise awareness about local economic and racial disparity issues and to help pass new legislation. In pursuing these projects, Twilling notes, she has also come to appreciate the connections she’s accessed through higher education.
“Scripps gives you the tools and relationships to enact further social change,” she says. “We need more students to have access to these experiences so they can likewise influence the world around them.”
While she’s unsure whether her career in health will lead to policy, medicine, law, or a combination of the three, Twilling aims to keep equal access at the heart of it. She credits her ability to view healthcare avenues through multiple lenses to Scripps’ interdisciplinary curriculum—something donors support when they give to scholarships. And just as her family and Scripps donors are opening doors for her future, Twilling intends to do the same for others.
“I’m forever grateful to my mother, Scripps College, and the donors that provide for those in need. I hope to express my gratitude by following in their footsteps and supporting the education of other students,” she says. “As they say, the kindest form of flattery is imitation.”
Scripps’ Day of Giving, “Sow Your Gratitude” is March 24, 2021, and we are encouraging the community to make a special gift to scholarships. To learn more about how you can participate, click here. To make a gift today, click here.