Cornellians of all stripes are showing their support for the recently launched endowed scholarship challenge, designating their scholarships to different areas of Cornell they care about the most.
With the goal of creating up to 100 new endowed scholarships for aid-eligible undergraduates, professional school students, and graduate students on the Ithaca campus and at Cornell Tech, the initiative is expected to provide an estimated $25 million in endowed scholarship funds.
To date, 30 donors have made gift commitments of nearly $6 million, and almost $1.5 million in challenge funds have been awarded.
Edward Estrada '94, a partner at the law firm Reed Smith, is an early supporter who was inspired by his family's connection to the university. But his Cornell legacy is of a different kind.
His father, Robert, applied to Cornell but was financially unable to enroll. "My father had to stay and earn money for his family and his sick mother, and was unable to attend any college, which was one of the reasons I wanted to go to Cornell," Estrada said.
Pictured with his father at Commencement, Edward Estrada '94 named his endowed scholarship after his father, Robert K. Estrada, as a tribute
When Estrada graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences, he fulfilled his father's dream, becoming—along with his older brother, Bob, who graduated from the University of Vermont—the first generation of his family to go to college.
"The day my father and my mother dropped me off at Cornell, they knew, far better than I did at the time, that it was such a huge step. My parents knew the lifelong impact it would have, and that it would also provide opportunities to my own children that they themselves did not have," he said.
Estrada named his scholarship after his father and designated it for first-generation students in the College of Arts and Sciences, helping to open doors for future Cornellians whose boundless promise may be limited by their financial means. In New York City, Estrada has also been helping to organize events for Cornell's first-generation students.
"I hope they will take advantage of all the opportunities Cornell provides and then put themselves in a position later on to not only take care of their families but to also give back to the university," he said, referring to the growing group of first-generation students.
Estrada added: "Cornell is an amazing university, and the education, relationships, and experiences that it provides can bring about dramatic changes from one generation to the next."