When high schooler Jasmine Castillo of Fairfax, Virginia, learned that Virginia Tech had offered her a Beyond Boundaries Scholarship, she rushed into the living room to find her mother.
“Mom,” she cried, “I’m going to college! You don’t have to pay for it; you’re good.”
“My mother said, ‘Nuh, uh,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah!’” Castillo said. “We were just so excited.”
Castillo, now a first-year history major at Virginia Tech, said the scholarship is making all the difference for her education.
“The Beyond Boundaries Scholarship was just the way to go,” she said. “For me to go to college, I needed to make sure it would cost my mom little to nothing.”
Castillo was one of more than 130 members of the Class of 2021 to benefit from a matching gift program the university announced a year ago. The Beyond Boundaries Scholars program supports several of the university’s major strategic aims. These include enrolling far more students from underserved communities and reducing the number of high-achieving students from all communities who choose competing schools based on financial aid.
Nearly 50 donors — including Jeffrey Rudd (Philosophy ’83), who funded Castillo’s scholarship — gave a total of more than $401,500, which translated to $803,000 for the inaugural group of Beyond Boundaries Scholars. Through the program, which is ongoing, Virginia Tech doubles the impact of certain qualifying scholarship gifts.
“The spirit of this is amazing,” said Luisa Havens, Virginia Tech’s vice provost for enrollment management. “We asked donors to help pay it forward to help us provide an opportunity to students, and they truly responded. The number one barrier for students’ ability to pursue higher education in the U.S. is the ability to pay. One of the most effective facilitators of success is to remove that barrier.”
Rosalind and Kevin Cutchins of Suffolk, Virginia, were among the dozens of donors to step forward. They funded four scholarships for College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students in memory of Kevin Cutchins’ cousin Yvonne Marie Turner, who had earned her English degree from Virginia Tech in 1975.
“The Beyond Boundaries scholarship felt right as an honor for our loved one,” Rosalind Cutchins said. “It went to a cause she embraced. It allowed us to reach beyond ourselves to help someone in need, and it helped us put action to our memories.”
Beyond Boundaries Scholars, who come from 15 states, are an investment in future leaders.
“I want to be a teacher because I want to help students understand what it means to be a citizen in America and how important it is to be knowledgeable about what’s going on and to participate in the process,” said Castillo. “Alternatively, I could go into politics. I would want to be a chief of staff because I think chiefs of staff can influence policies without being the center of attention.”
The benefit of the scholarship extends beyond the recipients.
“The Beyond Boundaries Scholarship is a blessing — to new students and to us,” said Rosalind Cutchins. “We’re grateful to Virginia Tech for giving us this opportunity.”