Wilkes holds annual Founders’ Gala, students reflect on scholarships

Cabrini Rudnicki, News Editor

On June 3, the Wilkes community gathered to celebrate the 4th annual Founders’ Gala.

The event, held at the Westmoreland Club with a black-tie dress code, is meant to celebrate Wilkes heritage, raise money for the First Generation scholarship, and honor one of the community’s own with the Presidential Medal.

This year the Founders Gala raised more than $500,000, making it the most successful one to date.

This year’s award was given to Frank M. Henry, who has given years of support to the Wilkes community. Henry and his family are the namesakes for the Henry Student Center and Henry Gymnasium, familiar to Wilkes students as popular places on campus.

He has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 1977, and has donated generous amounts to the university in support of Wilkes’ founding mission.

“After graduating from Yale, my father wanted to come back to the hometown he loved: Wilkes-Barre. He always loved the school and wanted to help the community as much as he could,” reminisced Marjorie Marquat, Henry’s daughter.

As well as honoring a community member, the event also gave the past recipients of the First Generation scholarship a chance to express gratitude through speech.

“I am very thankful for this scholarship. Without their donation, I would never have been able to afford to finish college,” said Courtney Moyer, who graduated with the class of 2017. Moyer was one of the first to receive the First Generation scholarship.

More recent recipients, Danay Rosa and Gabriel Velez, also had a chance to deliver speeches.

“It was an honor to receive this scholarship. In my speech, I want to properly thank the donors and help them see how much of an impact they made on me,” Velez said before the dinner.

Velez, a Nursing student, had concerns about paying tuition before discovering he received the generous scholarship entering his freshman year.

Danay Rosa, a Pre-med major going into her junior year, had sparkling eyes when she discussed her future prospectives.

“Being the first person in my family to go to college, we were worried about the cost of tuition, and if we’d even be able to afford it,” said Rosa. “Getting The First Generation award was incredibly exciting.”

Danay Rosa’s parents, Jose Rosa and Aurelie Rosa, attended the event with a prideful glow, excitedly looking at their daughter as she eloquently delivered a “thank you” to donors.

“I couldn’t be more proud of her,” said Jose, continuing, “this just shows how hard she’s worked, and how hard she’ll continue to work. Danay will definitely go on to be an amazing doctor.”