In the wilderness, one has the opportunity to experience transformation of a magnitude rarely encountered in society today. At NOLS, we value this opportunity and recognize that everyone deserves access to that kind of transformation. That’s why NOLS provided close to $680,000 in scholarship support to students in 2006 and plans to award over $800,000 throughout 2007.
But let’s give credit where credit is due: to our donors. Without them, many students would not get the same opportunity. Who are these donors, you ask? They are NOLS grads and their families. They are brothers, sisters, doctors, business owners, instructors, teachers and more. They donate from five dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars and together they have made the NOLS experience possible for close to 3,000 students in the last seven years. Let’s meet two of these donors and see why they felt compelled to pass on their NOLS experience through this generosity.
Will Northrop and the NOLS Annual Fund
The NOLS Annual Fund fuels the school’s mission while supplying a primary funding source for financial aid. Scholarships provided through annual support are awarded within the year received and they have an immediate impact, creating opportunities for students who otherwise could not participate. Will Northrop, two-time NOLS grad, chooses to direct his support to the NOLS Annual Fund, because in addition to providing scholarships, it supports other initiatives through flexible income.
Reflecting back on his experience with NOLS, Will remembers developing an appreciation for the wilderness above and beyond what he’d expected. He cherished the thought of traveling through a space that no one could own, while simultaneously feeling like a guest in someone else’s house. He wants others to not only experience that same childlike wonder, but to participate in a program that will have “a profound impact on their character” in the same way it has impacted his own.
Words of thanks from students who benefited from scholarship awards barely begin to describe their gratitude. Marisol Fonzeca is a student who could not have taken a NOLS course without a scholarship. “Without it I really wouldn’t be the person who I am right now,” says the 2006 Wind River Wilderness grad. “Life in the backcountry gives the soul and the spirit a chance to be rightly free.” Another 2006 Wind River Wilderness grad, Jayme DeFlurin, thanks Will for “the most rewarding experience of my entire life. Thank you for seeing in me what I didn’t see until after this trip.”
Gordon deLima Hamilton Memorial Scholarship
Gordon’s life is celebrated each summer as a NOLS student embarks on a course made possible through an endowed scholarship established by his family and friends. Gordon was a two-time NOLS graduate, a teacher, a coach and a person committed to sharing wilderness with underserved youth. Gordon’s life tragically ended after a two-year battle with Hodgkin’s disease, but he lived a life of breadth and depth if not length. Gordon was
loved deeply by many and those who knew him best most admired what he gave to others. In establishing the Gordon deLima Hamilton Memorial Scholarship, his family and friends have created a fund that will continue his work, and give to others, in perpetuity.
His mother, Jean Hamilton, says of the endowment, “It was the perfect memorial. He would have loved the fact that NOLS was bringing the experience to anyone.” Gordon hoped to pursue outdoor education so that he could infuse other young people with the same devotion to nature that he felt so deeply. The endowed scholarship in his name gives new students each year the chance to pursue careers in outdoor education, thereby carrying his passion forward to future generations.
One of the 21 students who have benefited from the generosity of Gordon’s family and friends is Tracy Hutt, who received a scholarship in Gordon’s name for her 2005 Alaska Outdoor Educator course. She pinched pennies for over a year to save enough for her course, but still wouldn’t have been able to make it work without the scholarship.
Tracy, who is now teaching, going to graduate school in technology education and training for both a professional boxing and mixed martial arts career, is a model example of a student whose direction in life has been enhanced through Gordon’s legacy. Her passion for teaching is exactly the kind of thing Gordon would have hoped to endow in future generations and we at NOLS are proud to be a part of the lives of such individuals.
Thanks to people like Will Northrop and families like the Hamiltons, future generations of students are given access to education that reaches beyond the trailhead and makes the world a better place.
If you would like to donate to the scholarship funds, please contact the NOLS Development Office at (800) 332-4280.