Johns Hopkins Gazette: January 6, 1997 Form

Bringing In
The Best

The Hodson Trust:
For decades the
foundation has helped
attract exceptional

Mike Field
Staff Writer

Adriana Izquierdo began her college career with some difficult choices.

An outstanding student at the private, nondenominational Nicholas High School in Buffalo, N.Y., she applied to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Hopkins and to the special honors program at State University of New York-Buffalo in the beginning of her senior year.

The trouble was, she got accepted at all five. SUNY-Buffalo even offered her a full four-year scholarship, all expenses paid.

In the end, says the Hopkins junior who is majoring in history while preparing for a career in medicine, the choice was not all that difficult.

"Hopkins has an outstanding reputation in the humanities and sciences, and the admissions office was very welcoming," Izquierdo says. "But the truth is, money is a big part of what brought me here. The scholarship I was offered said very clearly to me, 'We would like you at this school.' Hopkins recognized my achievements in high school and was willing to encourage me to do the same here."

Izquierdo is one of about 20 new students each year who receive Hodson Scholarships, a four-year program that pays roughly half the annual cost of tuition, room and board. In academic year 1997-98 the scholarship is slated to rise to $13,000 annually, up from the current level of $12,000. Once accepted into the merit-based scholarship program, students--who become known as Hodson Scholars--must maintain at least a 3.0 average to continue receiving support.

As a rule, that proves little problem for the Hodson Scholars, who are chosen not only for their strong academic records, but also for their high level of community involvement and extracurricular activity.

"The Hodson Scholars program has proven very successful," says Gordon Wadmond, a consultant to the Hodson Trust, the nonprofit entity that funds the scholarships. "If you take a look at the graduating seniors who have received the scholarships, their records are almost uniformly impressive. More than half graduate with grade point averages in the 3.6 to 3.7 range. A substantial number are Phi Beta Kappa. And almost all are very involved in extracurricular activities. They are exceptional students, and we get a thrill out of watching their accomplishments."

They are, in short, just the kind of individuals Hopkins--or any university for that matter--would want as students. The program that brings many of them to the Homewood campus is the result of a long-standing partnership between Hopkins and the Hodson Trust, which plays a unique role in private higher education in Maryland.

Established in 1920 by Colonel Clarence Hodson, who founded the Beneficial Loan Society in 1914, the trust helps fund the educational missions of Hopkins, Hood College, Washington College and St. John's College. It commemorates the memory of Hodson's father, Thomas, a prominent attorney on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Today, Beneficial Corporation, as it is now known, is one of the world's largest consumer financial services companies with $16 billion in assets. The Maryland-based Hodson Trust holds stock in Beneficial and funds its scholarship and other educational programs through its earnings. Last year, the trust awarded nearly $8.9 million to Hopkins and the three Maryland colleges, almost doubling the previous year's grant.

Of that amount, Washington, Hood and Hopkins each got $2,584,000, while St. John's received $1,120,000. And as impressive as those numbers may be, they pale in comparison to the long-term cumulative totals involved, for in addition to making grants of significant size, the Hodson Trust has been distributing funds annually since before World War II, making it one of the oldest and largest continual givers in Maryland.

To date, the Hodson Trust has given Hopkins more than $20 million in a variety of programs, much of it aimed at making college affordable for exceptional students who might otherwise enroll elsewhere.

For many Hodson scholars, the annual scholarship gives them the freedom to pursue the extracurricular activities that can play such an important part of the undergraduate experience.

"My father came to the United States from Mexico when he was 18 to earn money to send home to his family," Izquierdo says. "He worked two jobs the whole time he was in college, and he felt very strongly that he didn't want me to go through that." Instead, she has been able to take extra classes (she already has 94 of her required 120 credits) and pursue an active life on campus.

Izquierdo has served as team leader in the Multicultural Student Affairs mentoring assistance program, is a student member of the university curriculum committee as well as co-chair of the Student Council's academic affairs committee, volunteers frequently as a student guide, co-chairs the university's Blue Key Society and is a member of Olé, the Latino student organization.

Had she gone to Harvard, Izquierdo would have been required to contribute $3,500 in summer earnings each year. Instead, her Hodson Scholarship gave her the freedom to pursue her interests in science and research. She was able to win a Howard Hughes Fellowship to work as a lab assistant in neuroscience research in Solomon Snyder's lab in East Baltimore.

"I got to help try to elucidate the physiological role for IP6, a metabolite of inositol triphosphate," she says with great excitement, and then goes on to speak of the complex functioning of the brain with the easy familiarity of a researcher happily immersed in a favorite subject. "But I think down the road I'm going to be more people-oriented in terms of medicine. After medical school I'd like to pursue public health studies in maternal and child health."

This month she plans to be in Cuba with a Latin American history group, seeing the outcome of Fidel Castro's revolution firsthand. She hopes her visit will allow some time to work in one of the country's health clinics and experience some of the daily realities of her intended profession. When she returns at the end of the month, it will be time to start thinking about medical school applications and graduation in May of next year.

"One of the best aspects of Hopkins is all the opportunities that are out there," Izquierdo says. "Of course, sometimes it can be a little overwhelming and you feel like you need some guidance, but I've found people to be exceptionally helpful."

In addition to the Hodson Scholars program, the Hodson Trust funds the Hodson Achievement Scholarships, which reward academically accomplished minority students, allowing many to graduate virtually debt-free by replacing the loan and work portion of their student aid.

"Colonel Hodson was a believer in the value of education, and the trust has nurtured his philosophy down to this very day," says Wadmond of the underlying philosophy behind the various gifts and grants made to Hopkins over the years. Unlike many charitable trusts, which create their own set of specific guidelines and then set out to fund programs falling within that purview, the Hodson Trust has proved willing to listen to the colleges it supports in funding programs they feel are important.

"The presidents of the recipient institutions work with our chairman, Finn M.W. Caspersen, to determine what the priorities should be," Wadmond says. "Then the seven trustees decide on the extent to which the trust can assist in achieving their goals."

The Hodson Trust is also distinctive for the level of personal relationship that is fostered between the grantors, the educational institution and the students. Hodson Scholars are brought together at the beginning of their studies at Hopkins to meet and get acquainted, and are provided with a yearly directory of each other's phone numbers and addresses. In addition, there are occasional social events and a special luncheon each year where members of the trust come to Hopkins and get to know the students they are helping to put through school.

"Very few charitable trusts that I am aware of try to follow up and be a part of the educational experience for these students," Wadmond says. "The Hodson trustees have a very personal relationship with the students at all the schools and in many ways it is the most rewarding aspect of what they do. The trust supports a terrific group of students and getting to know them and watch what they achieve is a real thrill."

"Being a Hodson Scholar has facilitated friendships with other students from different backgrounds and different aspirations," Izquierdo says of her peers, who range in interests from the Writing Seminars to chemical engineering. "It's been an opportunity for us to get to know each other and appreciate our different expectations, and a whole different aspect of diversity in student life."

"I think the Hodson Scholarship program brings in a very special kind of student, the ones who can make a real difference in the life of a university," says Paul White, director of undergraduate admissions at Homewood. "These are the young men and women who really give something to this community. They just jump in and do things and seize the opportunities and we are extremely fortunate to have a program that enables us to bring them here."

Go back to Previous Page

Go to Gazette Homepage