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Young Alumni Establish Family Scholarship

“We love Aquinas and look forward to making a meaningful difference during the school’s 125th anniversary,” said Elissa Sangalli Hillary ‘05 of her family’s decision to start an endowed scholarship as part of the Family Scholarship Endowment Program. To date, the Hillary’s are the youngest group of alumni to establish an endowed scholarship. They have committed to raising the funds within their extended families within the next five years.

Family endowed scholarships have long been a tradition at Aquinas. The Louis and Florence Hogan Burns Scholarship was established by their eleven children, all of whom attended Aquinas, when they desired to honor their parents’ dedication to Catholic education. The Father Jim Chelich Scholarship was endowed by the parishioners of Father Chelich at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, who appreciated his commitment to service, community and Aquinas. Much like these endowments, the Family Scholarship Endowment Program seeks to increase the number of scholarships from a variety of community members.

“We really had never considered that we might be able to fund a family scholarship until the program was explained to us,” said Brian Hillary ’97. “With five years to complete it and engaging our extended family, it made it seem manageable.”

The Hillary’s have established specific criteria with their decision and plan on funding a scholarship for a student with demonstrated leadership and on-going commitment to service, one who is actively practicing his/her Catholic faith and who will maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better during the four or five years they would be eligible.

“It is inspiring to see young alumni step forward in this bold way,” said Cecilia Cunningham, Aquinas’ Director of Major Gifts. “The Hillary Family Scholarship will provide a sustainable source of funding for scholarships.”

“Endowed scholarships provide a unique opportunity to ensure a scholarship reflects the spirit and intent of the donor,” said Cunningham. “Naming an endowed scholarship also offers the possibility to honor an individual, family or organization important to the donor.”

If you or your family would like to learn more about the Family Scholarship Endowment Program, please contact Cecilia Cunningham at (616) 632-2816 or