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A letter to the donors who helped me at Virginia Tech

April 16, 2014

Every year on April 16, I like to remember my time at Virginia Tech.

So far, the memories I have written about have been ones of reverence, or anger, or sadness.  But I haven’t been explicit about the predominant emotion I feel when reflecting on my undergraduate years at VT: gratitude.

It seems to me that the defining feature of my life so far is that I have been the beneficiary of great and undeserved kindness.  My time at VT was certainly no exception.  One of the most concrete examples I have of this kindness is the numerous privately-endowed scholarships that helped to pay my tuition.  I can’t imagine what motivates a private individual to give thousands of dollars every year for the benefit of some unknown (and, in my case, thoroughly immature) kid.  But it’s humbling and puzzling to think that such people considered it worthwhile to pay me to study whatever I was interested in, without knowing me and without getting anything in return.  I benefited enormously from their generosity.

I wish that I had made more diligent and more sincere efforts to thank those people.  I’m sure I would be embarrassed if I had to read through the meager thank-you letters that I wrote every year.

As it happens, though, I do have one of those letters in my possession.  The last scholarship I received at VT was the H. Y. Loh Award, which I was given just before my graduation in 2007.  I wrote a thank-you letter to the donor shortly after graduation, but, sadly, the donor passed away before the letter arrived and it was returned to me.

Just today I finally worked up the courage to open the envelope and read what I had written.  It is a little embarrassing to read, and it reflects my own insecurities as much as anything else, but I like it because it stands as a record of who I was at the time and of the people who helped me get there.

Below is the letter itself.  I have blanked out the donor’s name, but maybe it can stand as an open thank-you to all of those who helped me at Virginia Tech, and to those who continue to help out immature kids like the one I was.


letter-1 letter-2

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2015 10:23 am

    Thank God! I am Indian. All The cost is spent by our Govt.Though the research outcomes are still miniscule (or so I think).

  2. February 27, 2015 3:31 am

    Personally, I think that is a very fine letter to come from a graduate to a donor. Had I been the donor, I would have been proud and very moved to have received it and to have known that I had been instrumental in furthering this young man’s career. It is sad that the donor was not able to read your letter but from this and from reading your blog, I think that you have continued to do honour to his name in the most appropriate way.

    • Brian permalink*
      February 27, 2015 10:28 am

      Thank you for the kind words.


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