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Parents Establish First-Generation Scholarship to Support Future Seekers of Truth, Beauty, Goodness

By Callie Ewing, BA ’03 MH ’22

The parents of two University of Dallas alumni and one current student, Adelaida and Al Kagan sought a significant way to give back to UD in gratitude for the education and formation their children have received here. Sofia Kagan, BS ’18, Alexander Kagan, BA ’21, and Ana Kagan, BA ’24, have all been able to persist at the university on the faithful path upon which their parents had set them, and for that the Kagans are particularly grateful.

“The Church says that parents are the primary educators of their children, and I always took that to heart from the moment they were in my womb,” said Adelaida Kagan. “UD didn’t steal 18 years of a great deal of love and sacrifice and transmitting of the faith from us, but built upon our work. ” 

When seeking a way to express their appreciation with a meaningful gift, the Kagans became aware of the need for further first-generation student support and immediately felt the rightness of creating the Fides et Ratio Kagan Family Scholarship for First-Generation Students (FGS). 

“These endowed scholarships are such tremendous gifts to our students, and in particular our first-generation students, who yearn, who hunger, for the kind of education that we provide,” said President Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D. 

He read from St. John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio, from which the scholarship drew its name: “‘Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth, and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth — in a word, to know Himself, so that by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.’” 

Director of Academic Success and First-Generation Initiatives Matthew Spring, PhD ’15, said, “This endowed scholarship comes at an exciting time for the University of Dallas and for our growing community of first-generation students, which we define as students without a parent or guardian who has completed a four-year degree in the U.S. The Fides et Ratio Kagan Family Scholarship will be a welcome addition to the funding we received from the Constantin Foundation last year.”

The Constantin Foundation grant enabled the university to begin a summer bridge program for first-generation students in summer 2020 that extended and expanded existing support systems for FGS at UD. 

“We anticipate over 120 incoming first-gen students in the fall of 2021,” said Spring. “Many of them will likely be from high schools that have not introduced them to the rigor and beauty of a liberal arts education. They will need the academic, social and practical support of our entire community from the moment they arrive on campus. Many will also likely be from low-income, multigenerational homes. They will need substantial financial support. Your generosity is absolutely crucial for their journey into, through and out of UD. On behalf of all of these future alumni of the University of Dallas, thank you.”

First-generation alumna BeLynn Hollers, BA ’21, told the Kagans, “I’m not a legacy student, but I have come to find tradition here at UD. Having these funds is basically saying, ‘We value you, and we want you here, and we want you to learn these things because they’re important.’” Hollers was the co-founder and vice president of the First-Generation Student Association at UD and is beginning a fellowship at the Dallas Morning News through the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. “That is because of the funds I received,” she emphasized.  

“We’re excited about this opportunity to create this scholarship and do what we can to make it grow, and hopefully others will as well,” said Al Kagan. “Thank you for all you’re doing and have done for our kids.”

Adelaida added, “What I wish for the first-generation students is that whatever their faith might be, UD is a place where they seek truth, beauty and goodness.”

To learn more about establishing your own endowed scholarship, please contact Assistant Director of Development Sarah Sokora at sdsokora@udallas.edu or 972-721-5131. To see a list of existing endowed scholarships, visit our endowed scholarship page.

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