A Decade of Giving the Gift of Experience
Susquehanna marked the 10th anniversary of the Gundaker and Summers Enrichment Funds during Homecoming-Reunion Weekend with a celebration of the individuals who made the funds possible.
The funds, which act in conjunction with one another, were created in 2004 by 1964 classmates Robert G. Gundaker and James W. Summers, and their wives, Isabelle Gundaker and Barbara Evans '65 Summers. The couples established the funds to enable students to explore their field of interest, discover hidden talents and begin to develop the skills necessary for success in the workplace.
Although the Gundakers were unable to attend this year's homecoming activities, the Summers were on hand for the celebration. Students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered for a reception honoring the couple in the seminar rooms that bear their names, located on the ground floor of the Natural Sciences Center.
During the reception, Michaeline Shuman, assistant provost for post-graduate outcomes and director of the Career Development Center, revealed that the Gundaker and Summers funds have helped 128 students (to date) gain valuable experience through internships, research and volunteer activities conducted over the summer months. It supported 14 students this summer alone, she added.
Two students who have benefited from the funds' support are seniors Hailey Gouza and Shelby O'Riley, who spoke at the reception. Gouza was able to complete internships at the Newtown (Pa.) Historic Association and the Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association in Lewiston,
Maine. In the latter case, Gouza helped Somali refugees find job opportunities and accompanied them on interviews.
"Eleven women are now employed-something they would have never had without my help and your generosity," Gouza told the Summers.
O'Riley, who was supported by the funds to perform undergraduate research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, said the experience gave her a "leg up" in the classroom. "I came back and blew Organic Chemistry out of the water," she said.
But during the reception, it was James Summers who was blown out of the water by the number of alumni and students who came out to honor him and his wife. Prior to the students' remarks, Ron Cohen, vice president for university relations, told the Summers to look around the room at the students and young grads in attendance. "This is your legacy," he said. "You are a very real part of their lives."
Visibily moved by the attendance, James called the reception "a real tribute," and asked the attendees to consider making a similar commitment to Susquehanna when they are in a position to do so.
"I think," Barbara interjected, "what he's trying to say is ‘pass it on.'
"Jim and I had to ‘beg, borrow and steal' to get through school," she added. So, today, the couple is grateful to have the opportunity to create meaningful employment, research and volunteer experiences for students who may be struggling as they did to finish school.