50th Scholarship Luncheon celebrates generosity of donors, dedication of students

The College of Natural Sciences held its annual Scholarship and Fellowship Recognition Luncheon last month, bringing together donors and student recipients to celebrate student success. This year, the College awarded 272 donor-funded scholarships, fellowships, and special awards totaling more than $825,000.

Hana Gebru, a first-generation student, was awarded the Brent and Marianne Keeler Scholarship in Natural Sciences, allowing her to continue her education and work toward accomplishing her goal of becoming a trauma surgeon. Gebru and many other students in the College of Natural Sciences receive support from donors, helping alleviate financial worries of paying for school so that they may focus on their dreams.

“Your impact is boundless; you relieve us of financial burden and colossal stress,” said Gebru. “You give students with limitless potential the chance to dip into it.”

This particular luncheon not only celebrated the generosity of College of Natural Sciences donors, but also marked two milestones: the 50th anniversary of the College and the 30th anniversary of the Scholarship Luncheon.

Accomplishing lofty goals

Hana Gebru has used her support not only for academic success, but also for the betterment of her community. She also translates her passion for science to further her commitment to service and social justice.

Her mother and father, who immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia, have instilled in Gebru an unwavering work ethic. “My father taught us that we needed to work, to apply ourselves, and strive to succeed in life,” she said. “This helped me develop my philosophy that true success comes to those who don’t give up, who, through all the struggle and difficulty, hold onto their dreams tight.”

“While I was reluctant to listen to [my father’s] lectures on the car rides home from school, I cannot express how grateful I am to have had them,” she said. “I’m glad that education was and is one of my top priorities and that I don’t ever, not even for a second, take school for granted.”

A legacy of support

Among those celebrated for their support of the college were Brent Keeler, M.D. (B.S., physical science, ’74) and Marianne Keeler (B.S., biological science, ’73) who are this year’s College of Natural Sciences Distinguished Alumni. The Keelers met at Colorado State University and have since spent their time giving back to the College. Dr. Brent Keeler is a board- certified OB-GYN and has delivered more than 5,000 babies during his career. With Marianne’s support, he has held leadership positions in the medical community, including chief of staff at The Medical Center of Aurora, president of the Colorado Gynecological and Obstetrical Society, and president of the Colorado Medical Society. Marianne also worked at the Women’s Clinic, which was his professional home.

The College was honored to have Michael Smith as a keynote speaker at the luncheon. “For you in the College of Natural Sciences, your fields of study are leading many of the changes [in technology],” said Smith. “But make no mistake – whatever career path you make, there will be changes, and you need to embrace these changes.”

Smith is an energy entrepreneur with extensive involvement at the University and a history of philanthropy. During his time at CSU, Smith majored in chemistry with a minor in mathematics, and attributed many of his successes to his studies at the University. Recently, he made a $13 million gift to the University, a portion of which has funded 10 full-tuition scholarships for students in the Department of Chemistry.

“While a lot has changed in the past 50 years, the positive impact of donors on our students has not,” said Jan Nerger, dean of the College. “The financial assistance, as well as the vote of confidence, goes a long way for student success.”