Virginia Tech’s Beyond Boundaries Scholars program passed a major milestone earlier this year when donor support for the initiative exceeded $1 million.

That amount, given by 160 generous households, was up 35 percent compared to the previous year — and enough for the program to benefit nearly 300 students during 2019-20.

Announced in 2016, the program allows donors to double the impact of certain types of scholarship gifts by triggering a match from the university. Since the first Beyond Boundaries Scholars enrolled in fall 2017, the program has grown each year. It now stands at 290 undergraduates, representing 79 majors across seven Virginia Tech colleges. Beyond Boundaries Scholars come from 20 different states.

Jordyn Moffatt is one of dozens of first-year students benefiting from the program this year. Being selected as a Beyond Boundaries Scholar helped cement her decision to enroll. Watching Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” as a girl sparked Moffatt’s interest in becoming an animator. Now, a decade later, she’s honing her skills as a fine arts major in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

“Being an art major brings a lot of expenses for supplies and a computer, so not having to worry about cost as much is a significant help to my family and me,” Moffatt said.

Virginia Tech Beyond Boundaries Scholar Joshua Protil
Virginia Tech Beyond Boundaries Scholar Joshua Protil

Joshua Protil is another first-year student benefitting from the program. Following the death of his father, Protil was raised by members of his extended family, separate from his siblings, and he said that educational costs were a major concern when applying to colleges.

“Becoming a Beyond Boundaries Scholar has helped me get one step further in achieving my dream of becoming an architect,” Protil said. “I am very fortunate to be studying at this wonderful university. The only person in my family who has gone to college is my uncle, so coming here was definitely an adjustment. I have worked very hard to get where I am now, but I know that just because I overcame hardships does not mean that I had a right to receive any money. The only way I received this scholarship was based on the character and kindness of donors.”

Through the program, many scholarship gifts of $3,000, $5,000, $7,000, or $13,000 for current-use can be matched. The levels were selected in consultation with the Office of Enrollment and Degree Management and address financing gaps that students and their families may face even if they do qualify for some federal aid.

The Beyond Boundaries Scholars program helps with several strategic aims that Virginia Tech President Sands has identified, such as increasing the percentage of students from underrepresented and underserved populations, and attracting high-achieving students from all communities.

Virginia Tech Beyond Boundaries Scholar Carlos Gil
Virginia Tech Beyond Boundaries Scholar Carlos Gil

Carlos Gil was in the first cohort of Beyond Boundaries Scholars to enroll back in 2017. Now a junior, he is working toward a degree in electrical engineering with a focus on energy and power systems.

“I feel like there’s a lot I can do, especially as an electrical engineer, to help out with cleaner power for the environment,” Gil said.

He said being a Beyond Boundaries Scholar inspires him to want to make a positive impact either in the United States or in his country of origin, Colombia.

“It helps tremendously knowing there are people out there that have so much confidence in me that they’re willing to help pay for my future,” Gil said.

The number of households supporting the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program this year is up 30 percent from the year before. Among them are Robin Brewster and Victor Smith, of Richmond.

“We feel fortunate and grateful to have been able to fund both our sons' college costs,” said Brewster, whose son J. Tyler Smith is a member of the Class of 2015, carrying on a family tradition that includes Brewster's father-in-law, a member of the Class of 1943, and uncle-in-law, a member of the Class of 1944. “We appreciate the challenges families face as their children pursue college and feel we have a responsibility to help as we can, so young people can pursue their educations and dreams and become the leaders that are needed, in whichever fields they choose.”

More information about the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program, including how to make a gift that will be matched, is available online.

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