Each year, the Geneva Scholarship Association (GSA) hosts a benefit Casino Night to raise money for local scholarships for academically and financially deserving Geneva High School graduates who want to attend Hobart and William Smith. Presented in partnership with HWS, the GSA reception will take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8 in the Vandervort Room of the Scandling Campus Center. All proceeds from ticket sales, sponsorships and donations will go directly to the GSA.
“As a community, we have the ability to support these students through their four years at HWS,” says GSA President Sarah Wethey Heieck ’97, who herself was a GSA scholarship recipient. “In my mind, it’s the right thing to do. We want these students to thrive and come out of HWS with the drive, passion and desire to give back to Geneva. It’s important to the future of our community and to the partnership between Geneva and HWS.”
Heieck credits the GSA for giving her the assistance needed to attend and excel at HWS. She says it showed her and other GSA scholars the importance of giving back. Heieck first came to HWS after her mother passed away when she was a first-year student. Her father had passed away two years earlier, and Heieck says the school she had been attending before transferring to HWS could not offer enough financial aid.
“Without GSA and the generosity of HWS, I would never have been able to graduate from one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country,” Heieck says.
Since 1968, more than 190 HWS students have benefitted from GSA scholarships. This year, there are 20 GSA scholars on campus receiving scholarships totaling $91,100. GSA scholars are supported each year for the four years they attend HWS. Heieck says every GSA recipient has their own story to tell.
Teagan Finn ’16, who graduated from Geneva High School, is one of many students who says the GSA was able to open up new opportunities at HWS for her.
“I am so thankful for the GSA scholarship,” Finn says. “My experience has been nothing but great. Having less of a financial burden is a blessing for my family and I. HWS would not have been an option for me if I didn’t have the GSA.”
Through programs such as the Casino Night, the GSA Board of Directors continuously pursue new ways of expanding the endowment. With more support, more students will get the opportunity to attend HWS. Support of the GSA helps students pursue their dreams of attending the Colleges.
“Many Geneva High School graduates have dreamed of going to Hobart and William Smith Colleges since they were little kids,” Heieck says. “The reality of it is, many just can’t afford it. The community can relate to that. Hobart and William Smith Colleges seems out of reach to so many students. GSA provides assistance, beyond the standard financial aid package, to help with that.”
At the Casino Night reception, the GSA Board of Directors, which includes Heieck and other past GSA recipients, parents of current and past recipients, community members, and members of the HWS faculty and staff, will be in attendance. The Casino Night event will offer food, gift baskets and prizes donated by the community.
The effort of GSA is emblematic of the ways in which HWS connects with the Geneva area through initiatives such as Geneva 2020. The initiative is rooted in the collective impact model aimed directly at ensuring that students in the local community have the skills necessary to graduate from high school and to effectively pursue college.