Attitude of Gratitude

Student addresses donors at USD's scholarship luncheon


Ritamarie Smedile, BSN, MSN-ENL ’20, RN, a graduate student in the Hahn School of Nursing’s executive nurse leadership program, is a true Changemaker.

She was one of three students and two benefactors who shared stories of how scholarships change lives at the 32nd Annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon in March 2019.

Each year the event highlights a different school or program at the university. This year’s focus was on USD’s Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, which was established in 1974. Today, it’s among the top Catholic graduate nursing schools in the nation. In 2017 and 2018, USD’s nursing students contributed more than 105,000 hours serving the community.

Smedile is no stranger to service. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in nursing nearly 10 years ago, she signed on as a volunteer at an all-boys orphanage in rural Honduras called Amigos de Jesus, and later worked for the orphanage again, this time as the stateside director of the head office in Philadelphia.

But she needed more.

So, Smedile began praying, asking God to show her a sign. That’s when she learned about the executive nurse leadership program at USD’s School of Nursing.

“I felt a ping in my heart,” she told a crowd of more than 400 students and donors during this year’s luncheon. “This program felt like the perfect next step to integrate my clinical nurse experience with my passion for management and leadership.”

She subsequently became a recipient of the Dean’s merit scholarship — yet another sign that she was doing the right thing.

“I hope to pay it forward one day and continue the evolution of nursing through education,” she says. “It is with a full and grateful heart that I say, ‘thank you.’”

Gratitude is at the heart of the Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon. Students come face-to-face with the benefactors who made their scholarships possible, and benefactors meet the students who bring their philanthropy to life.

Trustee Emeritus Richard P. Woltman established the Richard and Kaye Woltman Endowed Scholarship Fund. He served on USD’s Board of Trustees for more than 15 years, starting in 1972 when the San Diego College for Men, the San Diego College for Women and the School of Law merged to become what is now the University of San Diego.

“The word ‘philanthropy’ has always carried a certain romance with it,” said Woltman. “It is made up of two Greek words — philos, which means love, and anthropy, which is mankind. Philanthropy, which means the love of mankind, helped build this university. Scholarships are another great form of philanthropy and, for all of you who have received a scholarship, you should feel very loved.”

USD Vice President for University Advancement Rick Virgin said the recently completed Leading Change fundraising campaign established 233 new scholarships.

“Think of the ripple effect,” Virgin said. “Behind each one of those scholarships are the benefactors who had a vision and the students who were given opportunities, experiences, connections and support that changed their lives.

“That’s what you’re doing,” Virgin added. “You’re changing lives — the lives of our students. Their stories are now a part of your story. Their successes will forever be a part of your legacy.” — Krystn Shrieve 

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