Scholarship provides help for marine science majors

Pennsylvania native Victoria Garefino was excited about the prospect of getting a degree from the University of South Carolina, but like many students, that excitement was accompanied by some trepidation over how she’d pay for it.

But Carolina graduate Richard C. Morris helped ease her fear. Garefino is the first recipient of the Richard C. Morris Marine Science Endowed Scholarship Fund, which provides $1,000 annually and significantly reduces tuition for out-of-state students like Garefino.

“This scholarship has helped me so much,” says Garefino. “It took a lot of the stress off of me wondering if I would be able to complete my four years here at USC, which had been a concern.”

“Since receiving this scholarship, I have been able to flourish in this motivational environment,” she adds. “The faculty and staff have been amazing, and I have been given so many opportunities, from working with Claudia Benitez-Nelson’s biogeochemistry lab to a study abroad over the summer. This scholarship not only impacts me today, it will have a lifelong impact on the person I become.”

One way of giving to the university is to leave money or property from an estate. With that in mind, Morris made a $100,000 bequest to provide for students in the future. But he wanted to help current students as well. By making annual gifts to the spendable portion of his endowed scholarship fund, Morris is doing just that.

In fall 2014, Morris met Garefino, and he was so impressed that he renewed her award and funded a second Morris Scholar, Jill Dress.

Though he was unable to attend this year’s scholar luncheon, held in October, he sent the two scholarship winners a letter detailing his interest in their education. In part, it read, “I want to express how glad I am to contribute to your educational opportunity.

"Also, I am committed to the continuation of this scholarship to you until you graduate from the University of South Carolina. You are a success in that you know how to excel in your academic pursuits, and I know you will be a success in your future career.”

The Morris Scholarship is one of the newer student awards at the university, but it’s just one of many that have a huge impact on the student body.

“There are so many talented students who struggle to get through college both emotionally and financially,” Garefino explains. “Donations have a lifelong impact on students, who are able to worry less and focus on what’s truly important: academics, their future and becoming productive members of society.”

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