'09 grad creates scholarship to help recruit women, ‘pay it forward’
Holly Maslowski, ’09, has many reasons to give back to The Citadel.
She has seen classmates drop out because they cannot pay for tuition and she had heard young women tell her they want to come to The Citadel but cannot afford it.
Working in The Citadel Admissions Office immediately after graduation, Maslowski was on the front lines of recruiting women to join the Corps of Cadets.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the girls I spoke to were unable to afford The Citadel, even with loans,” Maslowski said.
The Citadel began admitting women in 1996. The number of women matriculating has grown from four the first year to a high of 53 in 2007. This fall, 39 women matriculated. A little more than 200 women now call themselves graduates, but the college wants to increase their numbers.
The struggle to pay for college crosses gender lines, but Maslowski wants to help women like her attend The Citadel. And at the same time she wants future generations of women at The Citadel to understand who paved the way for them.
Maslowski has created the Mace-Lovetinska Fund in honor of the first two women to join The Citadel’s Long Gray Line. Maslowski was 9 years old when the first class of women entered in 1996.
Nancy Mace was the first to graduate in 1999. The daughter of one of The Citadel’s most decorated alumni, retired Army Brig. Gen. Emory Mace, former commandant of cadets, Nancy Mace graduated a year early. Her classmate Petra Lovetinska-Seipel was a Czech-born national who became a United States citizen while enrolled at The Citadel. After graduating in 2000, she became an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. A captain now, she has served in Iraq.
“Some of the women I was friends with did not know about Nancy or Petra and that really saddened me.” Maslowski said. “It has been 13 years and they did not know the names of the women who were brave enough to be first. So, I decided to name the scholarship after them in honor of their contributions and to ensure that at least the women who received the scholarship would know who came before them.”
Maslowski herself was the recipient of a full scholarship. As a high school senior, she had a choice between the Air Force Academy and The Citadel, whose acceptance letters arrived within weeks of each other. She chose The Citadel because she wanted the choice of entering the military upon graduation or pursuing a career after.
At 22, Maslowski is among the college’s youngest donors. According to The Citadel Foundation, of the 5,401 donors with known ages on file in 2008, just 1.7 percent were age 18 to 25. The largest giving group was those age 56 to 65.
Maslowski, who is both contributing to and raising money to endow the Mace-Lovetinska Fund, needs $25,000 by December 2013 to award the first scholarship. Eventually she hopes to raise $300,000 so that full scholarships can be awarded to deserving women seeking a Citadel education. The scholarship will give preference to incoming freshman women who have a 3.0 GPA and previous experience in JROTC or similar programs.
"Holly is a credit to her classmates and a wonderful example of the importance of giving back to one's alma mater,” said Dennis Bergvall, executive director of The Citadel Foundation. “It is uncommon for such a recent graduate to commit to endowing a scholarship. Yet it is not surprising. Charity and service are among the values of principled leadership that The Citadel aims to instill. As a young leader in philanthropy, she is an exemplar and paves the way for future generations of women to join the Corps of Cadets and, eventually, the Long Gray Line."
As a cadet, Maslowski majored in biology and helped conduct research on rockhopper penguins along with her professor, Paul Nolan. Her senior year she was a Human Affairs Officer for Lima Company. Maslowski also was an athlete competing as a pole vaulter on the women’s track and field team her freshman year. She was active in numerous organizations, including Women in Science and Engineering, Women Against Sexual Assault, and the BioCid biology club. She served as a presidential aide and was named to the Dean’s List for five semesters, earning Gold Stars for two of those. A Citadel Scholar, Maslowski studied abroad in Sydney, Australia; participated in The Citadel Summer in London Program and attended the Goethe-Institute in Munich.
Maslowski opted not to join the Air Force. Currently she is enrolled in the doctoral program in biomedical science at the University of Miami.
In some ways Maslowski has become a trailblazer like Mace and Lovetinksa were before her. But she is not sure she sees it that way.
“I do, and I don’t,” she said. “I do because I’m sure there aren’t that many young alumni establishing scholarship funds out there. On the other hand, I could only afford to give $25 this year, which, I’m sure, is about how much my classmates have given.”
But Maslowski has made philanthropy a priority.
“I want some other lucky girl to learn the lessons I did about looking for open doors and learning to take the opportunities they find inside,” Maslowski said. “I had an extremely good experience with my scholarship and my parents raised me to ‘pay it forward,’ so that’s what I’m doing.
“I would love to see my generation join me in philanthropy. Every dollar counts. Anything they can afford to give -- even if it’s only $5 -- will make a difference to someone,” she said. “You don’t have to be a millionaire to donate to your alma mater.”
To contribute to the Mace-Lovetinska Fund, send checks to The Citadel Foundation, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, S.C., 29409, or supportTCF@citadel.edu.
MEDIA NOTE: Holly Maslowski, ’09, is the featured speaker at Friday’s induction of the Leaders in Philanthropy. She is available upon request for interviews. Please contact The Citadel Media Relations at 953-2155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.