I have always enjoyed learned. Let’s face it: I was a college junkie, which explains why I have five degrees.
I was blessed to receive work-study support, earn scholarships or federal grants, benefit from the GI Bill, or make enough to pay my own tuition. And I had the help, patience and encouragement of faculty and staff. There is no grater gift than a departmental secretary who calls you at work to remind you of deadlines and applications that are due.
My classmates did not always receive as much support as I did. And I now have an honorary niece in college who is running up staggering bills, despite seeking grants and scholarships.
I am now able to set aside sums of money to help others. It seems natural to, as the saying goes, “pay it forward.” I cannot contribute enough to endow a chair or have a building named after me, but I know that every penny adds up to real assistance for someone struggling to finish.
That’s why I’ve made a bequest of $250,000 to establish an endowed dissertation fellowship to support a Ph.D. student in the School of Public Health.
Why do I give back? Because I can, because I know it is important to the school, because I know it doesn’t require huge sums but consistency, and because I believe in returning grace and gifts when I can. Giving allows flexibility for the school, which is important as times and events change.
I am deeply grateful for the support I received, and I am blessed to be able to return some measure of my thanks in a tangible way: writing a check or directing my estate to make distributions after I am gone.
Look at the history of great institutions and you will see that they are supported not just by grants and tuitions, but also by alumni. It’s my way of saying, “Thank you, Maryland, for your support and encouragement.”
Patricia Davison Mail PH.D. ’96 is a retired commissioned corps officer from the U.S. Public Health Service and a past president of the American Public Health Association. She spent her career dedicated to public health education, working on issues of substance abuse and tribal health.