Undergraduate Blog

Consequential Gifts: Donors Drive Possibilities for Commerce School Students

The continued support of Annual Fund donors forms an engaged and caring McIntire alumni community, collectively responsible for helping the School to maintain its leading educational programs and invaluable student experiences.

Students Rose Huang and Samuel Wondwossen

McIntire’s alumni are committed to preserving and advancing the quality and vision of the School’s unrivaled business education. Through strong philanthropic support of essential programs, critical scholarships, and myriad resources provided by the Annual Fund, students like Rose Huang (McIntire ’22) and Samuel Wondwossen (McIntire ’22) benefit from immersive and innovative learning experiences enhanced by excellent services.

One such program, the Commerce Cohort, which included Huang and Wondwossen in its inaugural group, is representative of the impact donors continue to create for students at Rouss & Robertson Halls and across the University.

Launched in the fall of 2018 with multiple leadership gifts, including notable support from Brad (McIntire ’88) and Alexandra Singer, the Cohort provides high-achieving, high-need students from traditionally underrepresented groups with practical academic and career skills. With instructor- and professional-led sessions focused on personal resourcefulness and exposure to the world of business, the specialized curriculum helps students reach their educational goals while developing an affinity for McIntire, fostering a tight-knit peer network, and offering invaluable staff guidance.

Lasting Connections
Double-majoring in Commerce and Chinese, Huang says that the Cohort prepared her especially well for McIntire, insisting that the ultimate benefits of the program concerned both academic achievements and making meaningful personal connections. 

The Comm Cohort really helped in making me immediately open to building relationships with my group members,” Huang says. “From our group projects, I learned the importance of team compatibility and bonding. Now, I feel so lucky to have made a bunch of new friends I work well with, as it makes meetings fun and assignments less stressful.”

Wondwossen says that beyond the positive aspects of bonding with fellow first-years in the Cohort, he appreciated the crucial information about the Commerce School and University that was instrumental in his eventual decision to apply to McIntire.

“From the semester-long project to the class trip, the Cohort helped me pinpoint what I wanted to do in my career. After the completion of the Cohort, I was able to identify specific concentrations and tracks that would guide me through McIntire. In addition to my classes, the Cohort helped me identify certain jobs and industries I want to pursue after I get my B.S. in Commerce,” he says.

Impactful Opportunities
Both Huang and Wondwossen were awarded scholarships made possible by alumni gifts and share a sense of appreciation for receiving funding that has assisted them in their efforts to reach their scholarly objectives.

“Receiving a scholarship has taken away a lot of financial stress that had been playing on my mind,” says Huang, who received the Charles A. Ferguson Scholarship. She explains that initially, she was concerned about the higher costs of the Commerce School’s differential tuition. “I couldn’t be more grateful for this scholarship, and it really motivates me to make the most of my time at McIntire.”

Wondwossen says that being awarded the Edmund and Catherine MacDonald Endowed Scholarship changed his outlook about the direction of his entire semester.

“I come from a low-income family, and money has always been my main concern with rising college costs. The scholarship shifted my focus from money to spending more time on accomplishing my goals. I have been able to truly experience McIntire for what it is without any financial concerns,” he says.

Many of the services that define the high caliber of the renowned McIntire student experience are the result of unrestricted gifts made to the School’s Annual Fund. Huang notes that during this unprecedented and unpredictable semester, she has come to rely on those services. “It has been very reassuring to have such a great support system. I have reached out to my mentor as well as [Assistant Director of Student Life] Julia Hilkey about planning out the rest of my time at UVA and managing the Integrated Core Experience, and I definitely plan on taking advantage of more resources.”

Wondwossen has been taking advantage of Commerce Career Services’ many webinars and workshops to examine his career options. “The webinars and workshops taught me how to navigate my career after McIntire, and to a lesser extent, they’ve taught me Zoom etiquette, which I’ve used in my classes.” He says those sessions have resulted in being more comfortable in his classes and while interacting with the extended UVA community. “Career services and student organizations created the foundation for my time in McIntire and for the years to follow.”

Alumni Sustain Student Success
Annual Fund donor Karen DeGrammont (McIntire ’96) based her decision to give on the significant impact the School has made on the person she has become.

“McIntire opened doors for me professionally and prepared me well to compete and achieve in my career,” DeGrammont says, adding that she reflects fondly on the friendships she made, the mentorship she received, and the growth she experienced as a student. “I was fortunate to receive a tuition scholarship to attend UVA, which is a driver for me to consistently give back and to enable that opportunity for others.”

Much as receiving a scholarship enabled her to graduate with “the skills and strength of character to compete in a fast-changing business environment,” DeGrammont’s continued support of McIntire’s Annual Fund will provide a similarly positive impact for current Commerce students.

The continued support of Annual Fund donors like DeGrammont forms an engaged and caring McIntire alumni community, collectively responsible for helping the School to maintain its leading educational programs and invaluable student experiences.

Find out about all the exciting things happening in the McIntire community. Visit our news page for the latest updates.

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