Celebrating Access and Creating Connections Between Students and Donor

Scholarship recipients shared personal stories of transformation at named scholarship celebration.

Angelica Du, ENG’20, GEN’20; Penn President Amy Gutmann; Hayley Boote, C’20
Left to right: Angelica Du, ENG’20, GEN’20; Penn President Amy Gutmann; Hayley Boote, C’20

Education changes lives — and making education affordable is a personal commitment for Penn President Amy Gutmann.

At the recent Scholarship Celebration where Penn’s undergraduate scholarship donors meet and make lasting connections with the exceptional students their generosity supports, Gutmann was excited to celebrate these important ties.

The day before the event was the president’s birthday, and for that milestone she was gifted with a surprise serenade from the University’s Disney A Cappella Group. As she greeted the 500-strong crowd in Rockwell Gymnasium, it was clear she had much more to celebrate.

“With us here tonight are the people who will be our better future.” – University of Pennsylvania President, Amy Gutmann

“The opportunity to come together in person with this group is truly special. With us here tonight are the people who are investing in a better future. With us here tonight are the people who will be our better future,” Gutmann said.

In 2019–20, more than 600 Wharton undergraduate students received named scholarships, with 413 separate funds specifically designated for Wharton students.

Two Penn students spoke to the celebration’s attendees about their transformative personal experiences and the impact of being a scholarship recipient.

  • When she was a junior in high school, Hayley Boote, C’20, of Wilkes Barre, Pa., had a 10-year plan that included attending Penn. Tremendous personal hurdles, including the deaths of both her parents, during her undergraduate career threatened to disrupt that plan. But Boote persevered and was able to rely on the safety net that her Penn scholarship aid provided.

“Penn taught me to interact daily with my interests and goals, in ways that aren’t always so clear cut,” Boote said. “I want to take opportunities as they come and be as adaptable as possible to change.” She is now applying for law school.

  • Angelica Du, ENG’20, GEN’20, is pursuing a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree at Penn Engineering. She spoke about her journey to Penn via San Mateo, Calif., and the Philippines.

“My parents arrived in San Francisco with two suitcases and a baby,” Du said. “Aware of the hardship my parents endured, I was motivated to make the most out of every opportunity.”

Du cited Filipino lessons in resilience, hard work, and gratitude as a framework for her success at Penn. But a debt of the heart, she said, can never be repaid. Referring to her scholarship donors, her teachers, and the University, Du said, “My heart will always be in debt.”