Sophomore Jazmyne Williamson will never meet Air Force combat pilot Lt. Col. Wendell Lee Collins, but a Mary Baldwin scholarship created in his memory made all the difference for the up-and-coming biology major.
“My mother and sister are also attending college, and we all have to pick up tuition,” said Williamson, who serves as cadet corporal in the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL). “The loans were starting to pile up. This scholarship means I will have less to pay back when I earn my degree.”
Janice Collins ’65 and husband Ralph were eager to create the award in their son’s name for a student with a parent who is retired from or on active military duty. Janice relied on financial aid — and the generosity of past donors — as a Mary Baldwin student; her father was in the military and she was the eldest of three children that the family would support through higher education.
Williamson is the first recipient of the Collins scholarship, securing the honor for two years running, but — as an endowed fund — it will continue to generate funds for an awardee each year. Ciara McLaren ’16 was also recognized with the Collins scholarship for the 2012–13 academic year. Endowed scholarships are vital because they are, essentially, self-sustaining; the money is invested, and the interest generated is used for the scholarship, allowing the principal to be reinvested each year.
“One of the lessons we have learned is that remembrance plaques are soon forgotten,” the donors said. “Scholarship funds live on and help those in need.”
Already on contract to commission into the Army upon graduation in 2015, Williamson is making the most of her Mary Baldwin experience by participating in athletics, being a member of student organizations, and volunteering.
“The first time I heard about VWIL, I thought, ‘I have to be part of that program.’ I hope there is a high school student out there saying that same thing right now.”