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An Outpouring of Gratitude

Hollins received dozens upon dozens of notes and emails expressing gratitude for the donor and her gift from alumnae/i, and dozens more replied via social media to the news. A small sampling of such reactions is included below, beginning with a powerful letter from Bri Seoane ’01.

Dear Hollins sister,

For 24 years, Hollins has been a consistent, boundless gift in my life. At each personal and professional milestone she is there, manifesting her foundational strength, and providing support and comfort through the friendships forged in Tinker, Moody, and Pleasants. Hollins isn’t just a place, it is a touchstone, a place I go back to in my mind and my heart when I need a booster shot of courage, a refresher on leadership, and a reminder that I have in me all that I need to succeed and an extraordinary community to cheer me on.

I am a first-generation college student, and my family could not have afforded to send me to a state college, let alone a private institution across the country. The generosity and passion for women’s education from donors like you allowed me to make my dreams come true.

Since leaving Hollins I’ve dedicated the last two decades to public service, first overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer and staff member and most recently back in my home state of California building programs and raising funds to support sick children and their families through medical crisis with Ronald McDonald House Charities Bay Area.

The ripple effect of transformational gifts is almost unquantifiable. As a professional fundraiser, I try to do this for donors all the time. Now, as a beneficiary of scholarships like the ones your gift will create, I’m trying to quantify it on a personal level. Thanks to Hollins, my work has improved health outcomes for hundreds of communities in El Salvador and provided a safe, comfortable place to stay and nourishing meals for tens of thousands of families seeking specialized medical care for sick children in the Bay Area. Thanks to Hollins, I was able to (virtually debt free) earn a master’s degree. Thanks to Hollins, I was the sole breadwinner for my family of four and now am able to raise my daughter with the financial stability and mental fortitude to be a successful, working single mom.

Recent data shows that female philanthropists are on the rise, and I think this bodes well for our communities and our country. Your gift will be cited as a front-runner in this trend and will, no doubt, inspire many more women to take on the mantle to influence the public sector through giving. WOW. Another ripple effect, isn’t that something?

Thank you, Hollins sister, for giving this incredible gift that will ripple into infinity. I am so grateful for you, your heart, and your generosity. Thank you for setting minds and lives on to incredible paths like mine was decades ago.

In gratitude,
Bri Seoane ’01

When I started at Hollins in the mid-’80s I was a scholarship kid from Massachusetts. I had the privilege of attending an outstanding college where I received an excellent education and made lifelong friends.

Many decades later, I have convinced the daughter of a friend to enroll at Hollins, another scholarship kid, this time from Oregon. She will attend a different college—in fact, a university. She, too, will receive an excellent education and make lifelong friends.

Generosity like yours will make it possible for her to recruit another young woman several decades in the future. I appreciate your kind and thoughtful donation. And allow me to honor you for the records that it set, most especially the largest donation ever from a woman donating solo.

Women who are going places really do start at Hollins. I wish you all the best.

MJ Paulitz ’88, from an email note

Dear Ms. Hinton,

This is excellent news!! I am so happy to hear this!!
Hollins is in my will.
Congratulations on this excellent gift!!

Miriam Schulman ’74, from an email message

Just a note re: the astounding gift to Hollins announced this week. As the forever grateful recipient of generous scholarship monies during my years at Hollins, I find the gift especially gratifying. The modesty of the anonymous donor is also totally admirable. How lovely for everyone—alumnae, students, and staff—when I consider the struggles of our sister women’s colleges in Virginia, Hollins’ good fortune is even sweeter.

Leila Christenbury ’72, from an email note

Dear fellow Hollins alumna,

I would like to add my voice to the chorus who are thanking you for your very generous gift to Hollins.

In May, I will attend my 25-year Hollins reunion. Every day (and I mean every day) I thank Hollins for the life it has enabled me to lead. I came to Hollins at the recommendation of the Hollins alumna who gave me a part-time job while I was in high school. She said, ‘I think Hollins would be good for you, and I think you would be good for Hollins.’ Although I was a bright student, I could not have dreamed of affording Hollins without significant financial support (Hollins and loans covered 90% of my fees while I was a student).

Hollins was more than good for me. It has given me not just my career and lifelong friends, but has influenced my whole life. I studied abroad in London, and, inspired by that experience, I have lived in the UK for the past 15 years. My career in higher education fundraising started with my work-study job at Hollins in the development office, and I am now in charge of alumni engagement at one of the oldest and largest universities in the UK. I have kept in touch with many Hollins friends, including two of my best friends who now live in Maine and in Sweden. Hollins opened up the world to me and made me realize I could lead whatever life I dreamt of leading. It also gave me the tools to make that dream a reality.

I also have a photo of me on my graduation day holding my infant niece, who 20 years later followed me to Hollins. Like me, she is bright but her financial resources would not have allowed her to attend Hollins (or go to college at all) without significant support, which she received from Hollins.

Hollins gave me, and then my niece, the gift of choice over how we live our lives. We have the luxury of opportunity, which otherwise would have been closed to us.

I understand what a scholarship can mean to a student who has ambition and goals but very little money. I know this gift will change the lives of those who receive scholarships, and they, in turn, will change the lives of others. My life, and my choices, would be very different had Hollins not given me opportunity. Thank you for making those dream futures possible for so, so many students who can now follow in our footsteps.

Holly Peterson ’97, from an email message

Dear Hollins friend and sister,

As a proud first-generation scholarship recipient, I want to THANK YOU for your unbelievably generous donation to our alma mater. I am so proud to be part of a group of women who care so much about our school and its continued success. You will probably never know just how many lives your gift will touch for generations to come … maybe even my daughters! From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for yours.

Kristin Jeffries Henshaw ’94, current Alumnae Board member, from a handwritten note

Dear President Hinton and Alumnae Office staff,

This is such fantastic news!!! Thank you for sharing it with all of us, and also for President Hinton’s passionate and dedicated words of the use this funding will go to—scholarship!

Perhaps one of the recipients will be a future Supreme Court Justice—or president! 🙂

In any case, progressive Hollins graduates will be (and are) in positions to support other women and work for equity and justice and a better America and world.

Congratulations to all of you. YAY! Hollins.

PS: I did include Hollins in my own estate planning and trust, which I signed last month. 🙂 Not nearly this amount (much less by a great deal!). I am pleased and proud that I am able to do that.

Emily Cope Teller ’70, from an email message

Dear fellow lover of Hollins:

I graduated from Hollins in 1988 with a degree in English. I have been back for reunion several times. I am still in close contact with my Hollins friends. Every so often we get to spend a weekend together. My daughter just wrote some essays for college applications of her own. In one of them she mentioned that her mother had lifelong college friends, and that she hoped she would also. Hollins was (and is) so very important in my life. I had a merit scholarship for half of my tuition while at Hollins. The scholarship played a significant role in my decision to attend Hollins, and was a huge help to my parents. On behalf of us who benefited from scholarships while at Hollins, THANK YOU for your gift to help younger generations experience our dearly loved Hollins.

Amber Dahlgreen Curtis, Esq. ’88, from an email note

I haven’t responded to an email from Hollins since I left in 1971. I continue to read, from afar, and so felt compelled to reply to this: great news! How wonderful that an alumna (a) is in a position to be able to make such a generous gift, and (b) has made it. And bravo to you for using it to fund scholarships.

Hollins was an extraordinary experience for me (1969-71). I was a scholarship student, and so grateful for that opportunity. I was also rather young to be starting a life away from home (I was a young 17 when I started). Sadly, after two years in increasing turmoil, and after a breakdown, I left abruptly. I’m in a much better place now.

For what it’s worth, I’d like to recommend that you consider counseling those who are starting college younger than most, offering them the option of a ‘gap year’ (now far more common and accepted than when I started college), and supporting them individually in their first year at college. I believe it would have made a tremendous difference in my young life. Perhaps you could fund such a program, at least partially, from this endowment.

Nonetheless, I am grateful to Hollins, and think about it more warmly than I have since leaving because of this news and this reply. Please forward this to whomever could find it helpful.

Lane Trippe ’73, from an email message