From One Generation of Women to the Next

You are here

There is a Greek saying that translates loosely as “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” At Bryn Mawr, of course, it is women who are planting those “trees” in the form of bequests. Seeded with love for Bryn Mawr and a desire to support bright young women in the years to come, these gifts span from one generation to the next.  

Anna Mendoza ’08 and Samantha Beebout ’09 never knew the alumna who provided the financial support they received in order to attend the College. They are two of the 13 Gemmill scholars to date who have received scholarships from the Helen Hartman Gemmill Fund for Financial Aid, established in 1999 through the bequest of Helen Hartman Gemmill ’38. 

Only able to attend Bryn Mawr with the support of a Gemmill scholarship, Anna majored in English and creative writing. She currently teaches English as a Second Language in Vancouver and does so in a unique way – primarily through reading and studying novels as well as creative writing. She credits Bryn Mawr with helping her to develop the ideal environment for learning. “I loved my classes and found my teachers brilliant and compassionate.” In addition, Bryn Mawr still provides her with strong friendships and the ability to tackle her work-related challenges: “If I had not gone to Bryn Mawr, I wouldn’t have the same toolkit to teach English (including knowledge of the language, canonical literature, and Western history), to think about education critically, or to appreciate the world around me in the same way,” she says.

Samantha, as the Associate Director of Estate, Trust and Gift Planning at Montana State University Foundation, has an additional perspective on the importance of the scholarship she received through Gemmill’s bequest. First, “Bryn Mawr taught me how to think critically, how  to write, how to make a strong proposal, and how to communicate,” she says. “Ultimately, the confidence I developed because of those experiences has been invaluable.” Given the work Samantha now does with Montana State University alumni, she is inspired by the faith and trust bequests demonstrate for future students and the mission of Bryn Mawr. “It’s so powerful to know that there was an alumna who wanted to support future generations of Bryn Mawr and touched my life in such an important way.”

The Gemmill Fund is one of 275 funds that are providing permanent, endowed support for scholarships. The bequest of $100,000 from Helen’s estate endowed the Fund, and it has since been boosted by additional gifts from Helen’s daughter, Elizabeth (“Betsy”) ’67. In carrying on her mother’s legacy and dedication to Bryn Mawr, Betsy has taken on the mantle of responsibility to ensure the next generation’s future is even brighter.