A Life-Changing Investment


A gift for financial aid opens Colby's doors for accomplished students

By David Treadwell
Photography by Charlotte Wilder '11

Financial Aid students
Stephanie Berger '11, left, Heather Pratt '11, and
Solomon Gisemba '11
Despite their diverse backgrounds and interests, Stephanie Berger ’11, Solomon Gisemba ’11, and Heather Pratt ’11 would agree upon three essential points: they very much wanted to go to Colby, they couldn’t attend without significant financial aid, and they’re extremely grateful to donors who fund Colby scholarships.

For Berger, who describes herself as a “California girl much more likely to see a celebrity than a wild animal,” Colby’s location was as much of a draw as the College’s academic reputation. In addition to compiling a 3.9 grade-point average, she’s thrown herself into everything Colby and Maine have to offer. “During Jan Plan, I’ve heard Supreme Court cases in Washington and studied German in Dresden,” said Berger, who plans to attend graduate school and become an occupational therapist. “Through the Outing Club I’ve gone hiking in the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire and experienced nature in all its glory.”

Weekly concerts and piano lessons have satisfied her enduring love of music. And the California girl has embraced Maine winters—sledding, snowshoeing, and snowball fights, she said. “I love the small town atmosphere: the Opera House, the farmer’s market, the coffee shops, and the Common Ground Fair. Ironically, in Colby’s ‘isolated’ setting I finally feel like I’m experiencing the world.”

Gisemba had never been on an airplane until he left Kenya in the fall of 2007 to begin his college adventure. Since he stepped off the plane he’s been participating in and contributing to everything Colby has to offer. He has helped with the first-year computer connection program, assisted with international student orientation, taught Swahili to fellow students, and sung in the Gospel Choir. A talented scientist, Gisemba has worked as a summer research assistant with Associate Professor of Chemistry Jeffrey Katz and attended a chemistry research conference in Chapel Hill.

In Jan Plan 2009, Gisemba took the environmental studies class The Rez and the Hood: Environmental Law and Indian Tribes, which introduced him to the American government and its history with the Native American people. “I got to visit the Penobscot Indian Nation in Maine and talk to the leadership of the tribe,” he said. “It was amazing.” Such experiences have led Solomon to conclude that Colby has “broadened my view of the world and given me more angles from which to approach an issue.”

Grateful for what he describes as Colby’s “truly wholesome education,” Gisemba plans to return to Kenya after graduate school to “make an impact on the health policy in my country.”

After a rough first semester (“I had to work harder than the students from privileged backgrounds”) Pratt has found her stride at Colby. She’s become a leader, driven by a commitment to social justice and feminism, both inside and outside the classroom.

Pratt is president of Colby’s Women’s Group, a mentor with Colby Cares About Kids, and an active participant in Campus Conversations on Race. She’s worked as a research assistant for Lisa Arellano, assistant professor of American studies and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and as a library assistant in the reference section. This summer she will work on her honors thesis, researching the history of women at Colby over the years. A pragmatist, she’s taken workshops on grant writing and community organizing. A willing explorer, she scaled Mt. Katahdin as a first-year and traveled to Ecuador for Jan Plan as a junior.

After Colby Pratt plans to continue her work in women’s studies and public policy in graduate school. She hopes to be able to contribute to a scholarship fund at Colby because, she says, “I have a good perspective on what a Colby education means to students like me.”
“There are many other needy causes out there, but we should all think about where we might be today were it not for Colby. Besides, it’s great to get letters every year from the beneficiaries of our scholarship and know that there’s a human being at the end of that check.”

Stephen R. Langlois ’85
(Susan Stevens Watson ’28 Scholarship Fund) 
“Colby should be available to all
who seek a challenging education, not just
the financial elite. Educating the next generation is the best gift we can give.”

Susan Sammis Spiess ’71
(Spiess Family Financial Aid Fund)
“Real philanthropy is
not about bricks and mortar; it’s about making it easier
for kids who can’t
afford colleges like Colby to attend.”

—William J. Montgoris P’99
(Montgoris Family Scholarship)

campaign logoFor information on how to establish a Colby scholarship (and make a life-changing investment), contact Deborah Dutton, associate vice president for college relations: ddutton@colby.edu, 207-859-4393. To give to Colby financial aid programs, go online to colby.edu/give and choose financial aid from the drop-down menu.

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