From its first days, Elms College has been a place for students seeking an education that maynot be available elsewhere. Through generations of graduates, many alumni have made atradition of giving back to their alma mater to fund scholarships that afford a new class of students the privilege of an Elms education.

Scholarship Recalls Beloved Alumna

Tue Apr 23, 2013

From its first days, Elms College has been a place for students seeking an education that may not be available elsewhere. Through generations of graduates, many alumni have made a tradition of giving back to their alma mater to fund scholarships that afford a new class of students the privilege of an Elms education. The Donor Scholar reception is an annual event that brings the recipients of these scholarships together with those who create and support them. At this year's reception, held in April, one donor shared his feelings about the tradition and the woman who inspired his gift.

Their 32-year marriage began with a chance meeting on the small Japanese island of Okinawa. Over the course of their careers, Joanne Darcy Hewes '59 traveled the world with now-retired Col. William "Tom" Hewes, working as a gifted, enthusiastic teacher, and gracing classrooms across Europe and Asia. She taught elementary school-aged children from military families stationed far from home, and eventually in schools in Virginia and Connecticut.

Joanne graduated from Elms College with a degree in sociology. The Chicopee Falls native was remembered in the Elmata as artistic, and articulate, with the ability to make big ideas practical. Upon returning to New England following her husband's retirement, Joanne reconnected with her former classmates and was a regular attendee of class reunions.

Her untimely passing in 2003 was difficult for Col. Hewes, who had accompanied Joanne to two of her reunions. He spoke fondly of the friends he had met and the impression they made. "They are a truly remarkable group of women," he said. "Typical of the Elms graduates of that era, and hopefully this, they all seem to be imbued with the spirit of service to others. Certainly that was true of Joanne, who lived the ethos of the Elms throughout her life."

To honor Joanne's faith and values, and her deep love for Elms College, Col. Hewes established the Joanne M. Darcy Endowed Scholarship. 

Although many scholarships are founded as an act of remembrance, Col. Hewes stressed that the common thread among these is something richer than grief. Directing his remarks to the students in attendance, and urging them to honor the gifts bestowed by giving back in the future, he spoke the following, "donors share the desire to give something back to that which has enriched our lives," he said. "By its nature, the act of giving back rises above self and becomes the expression of something profound. It is fundamentally an act that reaffirms our character, our humanity, and our faith."

This year, Elms College awarded 166 scholarships funded by alumni and their families, continuing the tradition of supporting young people and the impact they can have on the world. In closing his remarks, Col. Hewes encouraged the  scholars to live their lives fully, and to give back when they become successful. "If you do, you will have kept faith with the ethos of Our Lady of the Elms and enriched the lives of those around you."

Adapted from remarks delivered by Col. William T. Hewes (Ret.) at the Donor Scholar reception April 21, 2013 at Elms College. View more photos from the reception on Facebook.