Scholarship dinner underscores impact of giving at Elon
Biennial event connects scholarship donors and recipients
Sentiments of gratitude filled the second floor of Lakeside Dining Hall during Elon’s March 12 scholarship dinner, as donors and students established new connections, traded stories about Elon and celebrated the impact of need- and talent-based scholarships at the university.
A similar scene played out at Gabrielle Pulliam’s table, as the first-year student in Elon’s doctorate of physical therapy program exchanged hugs and handshakes with donors who are supporting her education.
Pulliam is recipient of the W. Clifton Elder Scholarship, which was established in 1979 by family and friends of Cliff Elder ’25 and now benefits students who are veterans. She treasured meeting two of Elder’s daughters, Gail Harden and Sandra Harper, at the dinner.
“It was a privilege to sit at a table and get to know them,” said Pulliam, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army who completed three tours in the Middle East. “I am so very thankful for their generosity and kindness in choosing to honor me with this scholarship.”
For Sandra Harper, attending the dinner and meeting students is a valuable opportunity to see her family’s gift in action.
“One of our nephews is serving right now, and my husband was in the service, so it means a lot to our family to help someone who also had that experience and now wants to do something else with their life,” she said.
The theme for the evening, “Life-Changing Legacies,” highlighted the impact of giving through the story of Elon Life Trustee Dusty Rhodes and his wife, Peggy, whose support forms the foundation of three generations of philanthropy at the university.
Jim Piatt, assistant vice president of university advancement, recognized the Rhodes for their generosity as Elon parents, co-founders of the King Hussein Scholarship, and lead contributors to the construction of Rhodes Football Stadium. He also thanked them for the many quiet ways they have supported the university.
Igor Pavlov ’94, one of many students touched by the Rhodes’ support, shared how they helped him complete his education at Elon.
“Dusty and Peggy became my American family,” said Pavlov. “I was here because of their generous financial support and incredible mentorship.“
In return, the Rhodes’ only request was that Pavlov support the next generation of Elon students. In 2007, Pavlov and his wife, Mia, honored that request and created the Pavlov Endowed Scholarship for international students. The current recipient, Toorialey Fazly ’14, is an international studies major from Afghanistan.
“The root of the Elon scholarship tree has been planted with the Rhodes,” said Pavlov. “Hopefully we’ll continue to grow the tree, and the tradition will continue.”
President Lambert also spoke during the program, recognizing all scholarship donors who attended the event.
“A university is a collection of people who learn from one another, and you make this possible,” said Lambert. “The university we experience each day would not be possible without your commitment.”