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Annual Scholarship Brunch celebrates donors and scholarship recipients

Student scholarship recipients were honored Saturday at Marshall University during the 2023 Scholarship Honor Brunch, hosted by the Marshall University Foundation. This annual event recognizes those students who are beneficiaries of privately funded scholarships, as well as the donors and families who made the awards possible.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO and senior vice president of development of the Foundation, delivered a special welcome to more than 400 students and donors who attended the event in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center. This year’s brunch marked the 28th occurrence of the event, originally started in 1993, missing the annual occasion in 2009, 2020 and 2021.

“The Scholarship Honor Brunch brings together scholarship beneficiaries and award benefactors and highlights our mission to maximize continuous financial support for Marshall University and its students,” Area said. “We are absolutely committed to increasing the accessibility of education for our students and are thankful for the benevolence of our donors who truly support their Marshall family through their donations as well as their presence here today.”

Sophomore Nicolas “Nico” Raffinengo, from Boynton Beach, Florida, served as the student speaker. A double major in political science and international business, Raffinengo is a member of the 35th class of Yeager Scholars, the Charlie and Alma Slack Class of 2025. Raffinengo said he owes his current and future success to the scholarships he has received at Marshall.

Yeager Scholar Nicolas Raffinengo provided remarks about in the impact of scholarships at the annual Scholarship Honor Brunch hosted by the Marshall University Foundation on Saturday, April 1 in the Don Morris Room.

“I think scholarships are something that can even out the playing field,” he said. “A lot of students can’t go to college because of the cost, and when people are able to donate to universities it lowers the cost for students overall, which allows more students to attend university and seek higher education.”

Raffinengo is an ACTA Scholar, presidential ambassador, Pre-Law Club president, and member of the Marshall Student Government. He also volunteers as a local debate coach, which he attributes to the role scholarships play in his student journey.

“I think that it is so helpful and allows me to take on all these things like volunteer in the community and allows me to take part of organizations on Marshall’s campus because now I have all this extra free time where I can do volunteer work and help instead of focusing on how to pay the bills. And I think overall that uplifts the community in a way that you can’t really see anywhere else because a lot of people have scholarships and they want to give back, too.”

Marshall President Brad D. Smith, 38th president of the university, once again served as the featured speaker. Smith and his wife Alys established the Brad D. and Alys Smith Family Scholarship in 2014 prior to serving as the President and First Lady of Marshall University.

Marshall University President Brad D. Smith was the keynote speaker at the annual Scholarship Honor Brunch hosted by the Marshall University Foundation on Saturday, April 1 in the Don Morris Room.