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Women Funding Women’s Education
The Sunflower Initiative logo
Women Funding Women’s Education

2016/11 Margaret McKean on the Sunflower Initiative

Margaret McKean on the Sunflower Initiative
November 15, 2016Dear Friend of Women’s Colleges:
The Scholarship Committee of The Sunflower Initiative eagerly reads applications from the many talented young women who ask for assistance to attend the women’s college of their choice. They are ambitious and already accomplished. They are also kind, generous, and idealistic. We absorb their teachers’ and advisors’ contagious admiration, empathize with the women’s struggles, grin at their funny stories, are awestruck by their accomplishments, and feel buoyed by a vision of how they will benefit society as adults.
It is through your generosity that TSI can support both the future of these remarkable women and the women’s colleges that they attend. I ask that you join us in our commitment by donating generously to The Sunflower Initiative.
Donate to TSI today!
We see academic honors such as statewide awards for poetry and dramatic writing, prizes at science fairs and debates, test scores often in the 95th percentile, and Honors and Advanced Placement courses. Many are Finalists and Semi-Finalists for National Merit Scholarships, and many are in the National Honor Society.
In essays and letters we see budding scientists and problem-solvers. One student sliced and stained frozen brains for microscopic examination with such accuracy and finesse that she astounded the university lab chief, who had used to reject high school interns in fear for the equipment. Another student spent high school summers with hospital patients recuperating from organ transplants, and, frustrated by organizational weaknesses, designed a system of spreadsheets and charts for tracking patient data that the hospital now uses.
Many applicants are accomplished dancers or musicians. One violinist performing with her community orchestra invited elementary school students to “bark along” to the dogfight section of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” and on another occasion played an encore of jazz and klezmer after a classical concert. A young flutist played with James Galway at Carnegie Hall. A young dancer performed regularly with the Pacific Northwest ballet while maintaining a perfect record in school.
Social awareness and personal experience have also motivated significant achievements. A number of applicants launched high school groups to promote awareness of sexual assault or gender equality, or to raise self-esteem and reduce anxiety about body image. Childhood exposures to toxic substances or contaminated water have convinced some to become medical professionals, scientists, or environmental lawyers devoted to preventing such problems. One applicant decided after a trip to Kyrgyzstan to pursue civil engineering in order to improve water quality in the developing world.
Many of our applicants are interested in women’s colleges particularly because they want to study in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and find too often that they are the only women in their classes, ridiculed and belittled. At a women’s college they can eliminate gender as a battleground and focus instead on the subject matter, and see women as leaders in all fields. Some applicants applied to 3, or 5, or in one case 8 women’s colleges!
Learning about our applicants is a delightful privilege. It makes us keenly aware of how many young women deserve our support. Please consider increasing your giving to The Sunflower Initiative, so that we can continue to help such magnificent women go to the women’s colleges they want to attend. You may do so by sending a check to The Sunflower Initiative, P.O. Box 378, Bedford, VA 24523 or by contributing on-line.
Margaret McKean
Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarship Committee Chair
2015 — present