Gift Honors Classmates’ Memories

Class of 2011 raises record gift in memory of two classmates

By Courtney Jolley  |  Photos by David Rehor

In the last few months before graduation, the Class of 2011 came together in so many ways: long-awaited Spring Break trips, final all-night study sessions, excitement—and maybe a little anxiety—over the job hunt. But as their time at Loyola neared its end, the members of the class came together in one more way, one that will have a lasting impact on the University and create an enduring tribute—a senior class gift scholarship campaign in memory of lost friends and classmates Stephanie Parente and Evan Girardi.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of a campaign committee spearheaded by four of Parente’s roommates, the campaign became the most successful senior class gift effort in University history, raising more than $56,000 and attracting the participation of more than half the class, plus more than 120 parents, University employees, and other friends. The gift that pushed the campaign past its initial $50,000 goal? A contribution from Michael and Barbara Girardi, drawn from their son’s own money.

“Both Barbara and I had this feeling that Evan would have wanted to do something to help a scholarship for future Loyola students,” said Michael Girardi of Hopkinton, Mass. “Loyola was so good to him and to us and to all those around us, it seemed like the right thing to do. When we found out we made the gift that pushed [the campaign] over its goal, it was a fabulous feeling and unexpected outcome.”

“The success of the Class of 2011’s senior class gift campaign is extraordinary and a true testament to the unity of our class,” said Stephanie Nguyen, an accounting major from Wingdale, N.Y., one of the campaign co-chairs.

The gift also stands as a testament to the seniors’ commitment to honoring their late friends. Parente died in April 2009, the victim, along with her mother and younger sister, of a murder-suicide committed by her father. Girardi’s September 2010 death stemmed from a congenital heart condition.

“The unfortunate tragedies that plagued our class brought us together with an unexplainable bond,” said campaign co-chair Julieanne Malley, a mathematics and economics major from Caldwell, N.J. “I had and will always have 1,000 people I can count on for support, and I know many of my classmates feel the same way. I eagerly wait for the first recipient of the scholarship to be named in order to be able to explain who Stephanie Parente and Evan Girardi were and allow the legacy of two beautiful classmates to live on through memories.”

Campaign co-chair Lauren Gallinari saw the campaign as the culmination of a healing process.

“Two years ago, it was difficult to imagine how we were going to get through everything,” said Gallinari, an international business major from Tuckahoe, N.Y. “We quickly found, however, that comfort came through the memories we shared with Steph. Now, this scholarship will allow our memory of her to be an everlasting one. Twenty years from now, we can see a student who is able to attend Loyola with help of the memories of Steph and Evan. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

The significant total raised allows for the creation of an endowed scholarship, which will provide a small scholarship each year in perpetuity, rather than a single, large scholarship award.

“I know that Steph and Evan are proud of us,” said Nguyen.

Read the Editor’s Blog related to this story.

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