In 2009, the Scholarship for Sustainable Hospitality was established as an annual scholarship funded by Founding Farmers, Farmers & Fishers, and the Vucurevich|Simons Advisory Group (VSAG.) On October 5, 2010, Dan Simons, BBA, 92, of Founding Farmers and Lily Belter, BBA, ’12, the scholarship’s first recipient, met for the first time at Founding Farmers, a popular Washington, D.C. restaurant. The two shared their GW experiences and discussed what the “Power & Promise Fund” for student aid means to each of them. The GW “Power & Promise Fund” aims to ensure that qualified students, regardless of their financial situations, can take full advantage of a GW education.
Dan Simons: Lily, I am psyched about you being a real person I can sit down and talk with. At first you were an intangible idea of an unnamed recipient, but now it has come to life, in person, which is the whole point of this scholarship, to help a real student. I am really excited about this opportunity to meet you and learn about you.
Lily Belter: Well, I’m from Lakeville, Connecticut. It’s a very small town with only one traffic light. GW is so different from back home.
DS: GW is a great place. I grew up in Boston and I visited DC when I was 12 and fell in love with the city. The whole college experience here was amazing; I was really fortunate.
LB: GW was my No. 1 dream school. I came down for the sports management program. I’m a junior and starting to get into the exciting classes, my major classes. I’m in the Sport Events Hospitality track.
DS: I never would have put those together. What interested you in that area?
LB: I have always loved sports. My brother plays baseball in California at school and I used to tag along to games. My dad was a coach for a summer league team when I was growing up and I was always on the bench keeping score. You hear people talking about doing something that you really love and being happy with what you are doing. I had heard about sports management, but it’s not a huge area of study and not a lot of schools offer it. But here, GW has a very specific program and I am actually getting to do things. We have teachers that have worked at some of the biggest sports management firms in the US. We had a representative from the NFL Players Association come and speak in class. It is awesome.
DS: I love hearing that. I had teachers who were in the business community or who would bring in outside speakers. I think you learn so much from people who are actually doing. I have a business now and I am able to look back at all of it and feel so grateful for that education. So tell me more about your career path, where do you think it’s going to go? What’s the vision?
LB: My classes have opened up so many aspects of the field and there are so many different facets that it is hard to say specifically “this is the job I want to have” or “this is the position that I want to be in,” so I am not sure. There is promotion and marketing — like the representatives from the NFL. I’ve thought about working with the NCAA. I think anything on a grand scheme like that.
DS: That’s good. It’s a pretty exciting field, and I would imagine that there are not a lot of women. I mean maybe it’s harder because I imagine it’s a “boys’ club,” but I think you could handle that.
LB: I would like to think so. One of my professors started a NFL event where they bring in all the rookies and they do photo shoots. It’s cool to learn about because she started it, and that’s something you can’t teach out of a book. She is teaching out of her experience, so it is just getting better and better. It’s great to focus on learning from these experiences and how I can use them in my future because I’m not worrying about money all the time.
DS: When I was a freshman, one of my roommates had financial aid, and I saw his stress level. I watched him worry about taking four classes instead of five and having to make tough choices, like dinner or books? He needed that help, that financial support. I think that memory lodged in my brain. So now I have a business and the chance to be involved with GW and give back. The whole scholarship idea just came together. But I was really interested in what our scholarship recipient would be going on to do.
I also wondered about being just an anonymous donor, but the donation isn’t just from me, it is from me and my business partner, Michael Vucurevich, and Founding Farmers and Farmers & Fishers. We made a commitment to do this every year for five years, and I just wanted to know that it was going to an actual person. It’s funny, you give money to all sorts of things and you have no idea where it goes, so I am just amazed because I can meet you face to face and see what I am helping to accomplish.
LB: When I received the scholarship I made the connection because I saw you speak at the GW Women’s Business Conference and I put the face to the name.
DS: Being able to speak for some of the classes or participate in forums and conferences is, I think, a real honor. Giving money can be intangible, but for me this – meeting you – is a pretty cool thing. I’ve learned that being involved as an alum is pretty cool, and that will be you one day.
LB: For me as a student it is exciting to see people who have graduated come back. My sorority had a panel of alums the other day who spoke about what GW has become and what it was like when they were here. It’s cool on a personal level to see people who did the exact same things as you, were part of the same organizations.
DS: So you already have a little taste of that. That is really good. GW for me is nostalgic. I was your age when I was here, so now, 20 years later, I can look back and experience those emotions. And now I can come back and help students because it’s something that I think really matters. I will give you my card, and if you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I am happy to help anytime.
LB: I’ll be sure I do. Thank you.
To learn how you can help a GW School of Business student through the Power & Promise Fund for student aid, please contact Karen Ancillai at email@example.com or (202) 994-4801.
Posted by gwsb on December 9, 2010 | Filed under: GWSB News.