Sharon Mendes ’04
Sharon Mendes and Liz Thomas have much in common. Both were non-traditional students who already had children when they enrolled at Eastern, both have a child who became a traditional Eastern student, and both are now donors.
Thomas’ daughter Kimberly graduated in 1999, while Mendes’ son Anthony graduated in 2009 after majoring in history and running cross country and track at Eastern. While Thomas established her own scholarship, Mendes, who works full time as an academic advisor at UConn, chose to give to an existing scholarship fund that supports students like her.
“I decided to contribute to the Ellen L. Lang ’81 and James E. Watson, M.D. Endowed Scholarship because I was lucky enough to have been chosen twice as a recipient of the scholarship. I felt it was very important to give back to an organization that I had previously received help from,” she said.
While the aid helped her manage the financial burden of attending college, Mendes says the money wasn’t the most important aspect of receiving scholarships. “In many ways, being awarded a scholarship gave me personal validation more than financial relief. I was being rewarded and recognized for my hard work and diligence.” She still had to apply for loans to finance her education, but the financial aid reduced her debt burden.
Then the next generation benefited in the same fashion. Mendes noted that “because of my past experience I encouraged my son, Anthony, to also apply for scholarships, which he was privileged to receive.”
Anthony’s views are similar to his mother’s. “The money helps. Even if it’s only $500 or $1,000, it’s something we don’t have to pay or work for. Also knowing that I was selected and met the requirements is a good feeling.” The younger Mendes added that he enjoyed meeting the people whose generosity resulted in his scholarship awards.
(Anthony received the Sodexo Scholarship for 2008-09, and the Frances Karlyn Zittel Endowed Award for 2007-08.)