Members of the Mount community gathered on Friday, Feb. 25, for the virtual President’s Scholarship Celebration to honor scholarship donors and student recipients.
“At the Mount, we pride ourselves on preparing students to be brave, ethical, resilient leaders,” said President Ann McElaney-Johnson. “And our scholarship donors help us make this vision a reality.” This year, the Mount awarded 508 scholarships to 308 students and established 10 new scholarships.
Alicia Mercado ’22 received the Unstoppable Scholar award. Mercado, a biochemistry major, plans to pursue an MD/PhD in molecular biology. “My professors empowered me to become the person I am today,” she said. “Their support opened doors to research opportunities like the MSMU/USC Geopaths Catalina Scholar Program and the WAVE Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. I’ve learned that research can have a tremendous and lasting impact on patients. I am grateful to the donors who contributed to the Le Puy Scholarship, which made my education possible.”
The Unstoppable Supporter Award was given to Margaret Darmody ’58 for her sixty years of dedication to Mount students. Darmody worked as a children’s librarian for 37 years in the Los Angeles Public Library system. In addition to being a Mount Regent, she established two scholarships for Mount students. “Scholarships are important because they help students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend the Mount,” she said. “Once you are in a financial situation where you can give back, it brings you great joy to do something that’s important to you.”
The event also highlighted the Peer Wellness Advocate program. Alison Halpern, RD, CHES, associate director of wellness, led a conversation with PWAs trained to work with fellow students on their health and wellness goals.
“I work as a resilience coach, and I've been fortunate to help students develop healthier mindsets when facing common adversities,” said Andrea Cortave ’23. “Students learn to recognize negative self-talk and realize how beneficial it is to set goals. These small changes grow into bigger changes that will impact their lives in a positive way.”
The event closed with a chorus of students thanking donors, which touched Krishauna Hines-Gaither PhD, the new vice president for equity, diversity and justice. “It’s powerful for students to have the opportunity to speak from their own experience and their own heart,” she said. “I was proud that we provided space for their voices to be heard.”
As a first-time attendee, Hines-Gaither says the event truly reflects Mount values. “You know what people value by where they put their resources,” she said. “To see so many resources poured into our students, it gave me a glimpse of what we value.”
Alumna, trustee, and donor Nzinga Graham ’04, MD, was reminded of her experience as a President’s Award recipient. “I came from a single parent home, and my scholarship made all the difference,” she said. “Studying at the Mount changed my life – I spent one summer at Caltech and the following summer at Harvard doing research.”
The program was followed by a Meet and Greet between donors and their scholarship recipients, which Graham remembers from her undergraduate years. “Meeting donors instilled in me a sense of gratitude that so many people were invested in my success,” she said. “I wanted to give back because of that investment. It brings so much joy to my heart now to see the Mount’s success and its bright future.”
Watch the President’s Scholarship Virtual Celebration here.
Read about Unstoppable Scholar Alicia Mercado ’22
Read about Unstoppable Supporter Margaret Darmody ‘58