Published: May 22, 2018 By

Peter Rock grew up in a family of carpenters and knew he couldn’t rely on his parents to fund his education. After spending three years working three jobs while working on his math degree at the University of Colorado Boulder, Rock won a scholarship. The award helped him feel his academic work was recognized and helped him devote more time to studying.

Rock is among scores of students whose tuition costs have been reduced thanks to donors to CU Boulder. He is also among the scholarship recipients and scholarship donors who shared lunch and conversation in April during the College of Arts and Sciences’ annual scholarship celebration, which recognizes the “spirit of philanthropy” that changed the college experience for more than 300 scholarship recipients.


Scholarship recipient Jean Russell shares a laugh with other participants at the College of Arts and Sciences' scholarship celebration. At the top of the page, Peter Rock, another recipient, addresses the crowd. Photos by Kira Vos, True North Photography

“I was having trouble finding the meaning in my school,” Rock said during the event. After he won the John H. “Jack” Hodges Scholarship, which supports math majors who have demonstrated financial need, “it meant so much to me because someone had said, ‘what you are doing is what you’re supposed to be doing.’”

The support allowed Rock to quit his third job and devote that time to more fully focus on math. 

Rock spent his senior year writing an honors thesis, studying the math in movies and video games, and volunteering as a tutor. Helping kindergarten through 12th grade students with math, Rock explained, made him want to come up with a better answer to the question, “When will I ever use this?”

Mattie McGarey, student of dance and philosophy, is another student whose educational career changed when she received the Jamie K. Redmond Dance Scholarship.

“I never thought that my path through college would have been so full of art, nor that I could have made a difference in my community through artistic engagement,” she said. “This past year, I understood this more than ever when I was awarded the Jamie K. Redmond Dance Scholarship for dance excellence and dedication.”

The scholarship allows McGarey to focus on her passion for international dance as she takes classes in Israel over the summer. CU Boulder has given her a real appreciation for the way international dance has impacted movement and the importance of dance in social activism, she said.

Joanne Belknap, professor of ethnic studies, is one of the scholarship donors who attended the celebration. She said it is important to support scholarships so that students can pursue subjects that make them happy. She explained that scholarships she set up are named after people of color in an attempt highlight their contributions to society.

David Brown, the incoming associate dean of social sciences, explained that the scholarship celebration recognizes donors who make scholarships possible and allows scholarship winners and benefactors to meet each other. 

“We are so blessed to have so many donors and scholarship recipients. Scholarships can make the impossible possible.”