The Make It Real Campaign for VCU, the most ambitious fundraising campaign in the university’s history, closed June 30. Because of your generosity, our $750 million goal was shattered.
Funds raised during this capital campaign will transform and enrich the lives of VCU’s students, alumni, faculty, university professionals, patients, caregivers and researchers for years to come.
Attract, support and retain the finest students and faculty through scholarships, professorships and endowed chairs. Provide students with purposeful, hands-on learning and living experiences and faculty with support for start-up research ideas.
Create new interdisciplinary partnerships and centers of excellence to offer students and faculty the right environments for meaningful research and learning experiences that will expand the university’s ability to solve complex local and global challenges through inquiry and discovery.
Provide world-class facilities, equipment and materials to expand the university’s research capacity. Increase the impact and sustainability of VCU’s community partnerships and its resources in education, health and workforce development.
Your gift provided support for our students and the alumni they will become. Your gift has funded breakthroughs and discoveries that result from our research. And your gift has enriched lives and driven economic development within our community.
“I’ve just always seen education as something that can help us create the life that we want if we avail ourselves of it. Getting a scholarship is somebody investing in you because they believe in what education can do.”
Despite growing up in a home where education was not valued or promoted, Glynis Boyd Hughes (B.A.’20/H&S) has always believed in its transformative power.
“I’ve just always seen education as something that can help us create the life that we want if we avail ourselves of it,” she says.
Achieving her academic goals has been a lifelong journey for Hughes. She was a single mom trying to balance school, work and child care when she first enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University in the 1990s. Without a support system, she was forced to drop out to focus on providing for her family. She didn’t resume her studies at VCU until two decades later.
Hughes graduated in May 2020, at 52 years old, with a bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in gender, sexuality and women’s studies. Scholarships, Hughes says, played a critical role in helping her reach this milestone. In 2018, she found out she had run out of federal aid eligibility. Once again, she was struggling to stay in school, until she received the Jean Roy Riely Scholarship and the Harrell-Benson Scholarship.
“My scholarships enabled me to meet my obligation to VCU and to work fewer hours a week, which gave me more time not only to study but also to be involved in student life and the community,” Hughes says. “The money, of course, is helpful, but to me, getting a scholarship is somebody investing in you because they believe in what education can do. Something like that can make such a difference in someone’s life.”
Hughes plans to pursue a career in higher education so she can be a support and a resource for students, especially for nontraditional students like her.
“My hope is to give back,” she says, “because when someone invests in you, you have a responsibility to help somebody else as well.”
“The financial burden of medical school can put pressure on a student to pick a high-paying speciality not because they’re passionate about it but because they have debt to pay off. That takes away from the sacredness of the job. My goal is to become the best physician I can be, whatever field I choose.”
Shivam Gulhar (B.S.’17/H&S) first saw a medical career in his future when he went blind for two weeks because of a misdiagnosed corneal ulcer.
“I was scared that I would lose my vision forever, and the only person who could calm me down was my ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital,” Gulhar says. “Since then, I’ve known I wanted to be a doctor to make others feel as safe as I felt with my physician.”
Gulhar was even more confident that medicine was his calling when he received the Sarah Snyder Laughon Medical Scholarship upon enrolling in 2017 at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.
“Medical school is extremely expensive,” he says. “I’m grateful to receive a scholarship. I work hard every day and I try my best, so to have that positive reinforcement is an acknowledgement that I'm on the right path.”
Gulhar, who is also a graduate of the VCU Honors College, has used his time in medical school to pursue opportunities to practice patient-centered care in a variety of medical specialties. Scholarship support, he says, has given him a sense of financial security that enables him to shape his career path based on the patients he will serve, not the salary he will earn.
“The financial burden of medical school can put pressure on a student to pick a high-paying specialty not because they’re passionate about it but because they have debt to pay off,” he explains. “That takes away from the sacredness of the job. My goal is to become the best physician I can be. Whatever field I choose, I know that I’m going to give it my all.”
“I’m passionate about research and looking into the data to see what it tells me. I never want to stop asking questions.”
Ellen Stuart-Haentjens, Ph.D. (Ph.D.’19/LS) spent much of her time wading through wetlands while studying for her Ph.D. in Integrative Life Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research on forest and wetland carbon storage produced findings that could help predict and prevent future effects of climate change.
“Knowing how climate change is impacting how much carbon these ecosystems can store now helps us make predictions of future ecosystem health,” she says. “When carbon is stored in our natural ecosystems, it prevents it from being where we don’t want it: in the atmosphere contributing to climate change.”
Funding from the Thomas F. Huff Graduate Scholarship, Stuart-Haentjens says, helped her purchase top-of-the-line equipment to elevate a project measuring how stocks of carbon in wetland soil are impacted by tidal changes.
“Tidal freshwater wetlands are a really understudied ecosystem,” she explains. “The way tides move into and out of wetlands is slower than it is in the river, so I knew my measurements would not be as precise as I needed them to be, and I knew it would matter. The Huff money allowed me to purchase an array of loggers that can measure the tide with high precision. I was able to put them at each of my sites in the wetland and then tie that data to the tidal data and water level. That has been crucial because we know it’s important, but we don’t yet know to what extent.”
Now that she has graduated, Stuart-Haentjens is continuing her wetland research in a new position with the U.S. Geological Survey. She hopes her career will enable her to advance efforts to mitigate climate change.
“I’m passionate about research and looking into the data to see what it tells me,” she says. “I never want to stop asking questions.”
The Make It Real Campaign for VCU was publicly launched Sept. 22, 2016. It counted donations as far back as July 1, 2012, and closed June 30, 2020. It is the largest universitywide campaign in VCU’s history.
Private philanthropy is critical to the university's mission and vision. Gifts from alumni and friends enable VCU's students, faculty, caregivers and researchers to achieve their goals and impact society. To that end, a comprehensive campaign is a strategic initiative designed to strengthen the university by engaging all areas of campus and by reaching out to our alumni and friends to make a real difference to the future of VCU.
The ultimate goal of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU is to change lives … of our students, our patients, our community and the world. VCU will measure the success of this campaign not only by the amount raised but also by the number of alumni and other community members engaged, the number of scholarships and faculty funds created and much more. The largest fundraising campaign in VCU’s history, the Make It Real Campaign for VCU funds the critical initiatives that will become points of distinction for VCU long into the future. The campaign touches every aspect of VCU: students, alumni, faculty and staff, patients, caregivers, researchers, schools, libraries, centers and institutes, athletics and the community.
Our $750 million goal is as ambitious as our vision for the future.
Yes, the Make It Real Campaign for VCU supports all areas of the university. The comprehensive nature of the campaign means that you can make a gift to the area of your choice — Athletics, Massey Cancer Center, your school or college or a scholarship fund, for example — and your gift counts toward the campaign’s goal.
Faculty support is critical to the long-term vision for VCU. We have dedicated researchers, scholars and caregivers. All three pillars of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU — People, Innovations and Environments — are designed to support faculty through endowed positions, research support and world-class facilities.
The Make It Real Campaign for VCU is all about students. The most obvious support for students is through scholarships. Other funds raised during the campaign help our students challenge the norm by providing them access to the best faculty available; research opportunities; state-of-the-art facilities; collaborative, innovative hands-on experiences; and the freedom to explore their passions.
Making a philanthropic gift is a very personal decision, one that comes after careful thought and consideration. Perhaps you are a proud VCU graduate or an individual who has experienced outstanding care through VCU Health or you are simply passionate about art or music or basketball. Perhaps you want to alleviate a student's struggle of juggling classes and work by providing scholarship assistance. At VCU, our goal is to help our alumni and friends find their passion and help them achieve that vision through giving. Whatever your reason, be assured that every gift, no matter the amount, has the potential to change lives.
Yes. Because the Make It Real Campaign for VCU is a comprehensive fundraising initiative, every school and unit has established a goal.
The Make It Real Campaign for VCU officially started July 1, 2012, and ends June 30, 2020.