A 36-year partnership between Bloomfield College and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation has helped more than 575 mature women finish their Bloomfield College degrees.
Sharing a Presbyterian heritage, Bloomfield College and the Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation have been educational partners since 1981. The Foundation has given more than $1.2 million in scholarship support of the College. The fruitful partnership was the focus of a luncheon hosted by Bloomfield College on Saturday, September 23, 2017, on campus.
Current Newcombe scholars and Newcombe alumnae, as well as members of the campus community and members of the Bloomfield College Board of Trustees, attended The Charlotte W. Newcombe Foundation Recognition Luncheon. Former Executive Director of the Foundation, Tom Wilfrid and Program Officer, Diane Wilfrid attended alongside the Foundation’s newest members, Dr. Gianna Durso-Finley, Executive Director, and Lindsey G. Bohra, Associate Executive Director. The Wilfrids, longtime friends of the College, retired at the end of 2016, after nine years at the Foundation.
“Without the Newcombe Foundation, Bloomfield College wouldn't be able to extend many of these scholarships to our students,” said Richard A. Levao, College President, in his remarks. “This college is now reaching 150 years, and it was founded for people who were disempowered. This small school has such a great tradition. Schools like Bloomfield College open its doors and hearts to people. We are able to do so because of people and organizations like the Newcombe Foundation.”
“We are here this afternoon to celebrate the achievements of our Newcombe Scholars and to acknowledge the generosity of the Foundation and committed donors like the Wilfrids and the Gillens,” said Jackie Bartley, JD, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, who noted College Trustee, Jim Gillen, and his wife, gave the College a $100,000 gift for Newcombe Scholars. “Our Newcombe scholars have stories of perseverance and determination. They could not overcome their obstacles unless they received financial assistance like this.”
Around the room, “thank you” notes from Newcombe Scholars, past and present, were printed on signs for reading.
“I am honored to be receiving the Newcombe Scholarship for Mature Women at Bloomfield College,” expressed Yasmeen Mitchell, who first came to the College in 2009, left after her third semester, and returned five years later. During her absence from the College, Mitchell experienced a miscarriage and the birth of her first son. By 24-years-old, she was battling depression and contemplating death. “I started reading A Piece of Cake by Cupcake Brown, a book my grandmother had given me. She had such a hard life, nothing really like mine, but she ended up making her life something special. I was so inspired; I knew it was time to return to Bloomfield College.”
Yasmeen returned to campus, declaring a double major in English and Business.
“I realize my story could change someone else’s, even when they feel they have nothing to live for,” added Mitchell. “Without a doubt, bringing hope into dark and hopeless places has become my life's mission. Finances are always a struggle. Without the Newcombe Scholarship for Mature Women, I can truly say I would not be standing here today speaking with you. I cannot thank you enough for your generosity to Bloomfield College students.”
Newcombe alumna, Yesenia Rios ’13, articulated her gratitude toward the Foundation as well. Following her high school graduation, Rios began a family and postponed college. Several years later, a single parent with three children to raise, Rios enrolled full-time at Bloomfield College as an evening student. Her son is a current Bloomfield College student.
“There are so many scholarships geared toward high school-aged students, athletes, and other specific groups, but none are quite like the Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholarship, which targets woman like myself,” said Rios. “The Newcombe Foundation has made my journey to becoming a college graduate possible. I stand here today a proud, college educated woman.”
The Newcombe Foundation’s leadership has recently been extremely generous to Bloomfield College. Upon their retirement, the Wilfrids established the Tom and Diane Wilfrid Scholarship for Single Parent Scholars, and in addition to their annual support, the Foundation recently awarded funds in honor of the Wilfrid’s retirement.
The Tom and Diane Wilfrid Scholarship for Single Parent Scholars is designed to give single parents access to higher education that can open the doors to fulfilling, economically self-sufficient lives for themselves and their children.
“It wasn’t an easy choice picking an institution for the Single Parent Scholarship,” expressed Mr. Wilfrid. “However, Bloomfield College rose to the top in our considerations because Bloomfield College is an institution with a very important mission and has a commitment to women, which is central to the Newcombe Foundation. Diane and I are proud to continue our association with Bloomfield College.”