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TRIO programs receive landmark gift

Image: TRIO alumni gathering Sept. 20, 2019, during Homecoming Weekend.
TRIO alumni gathering Sept. 20, 2019, during Homecoming Weekend. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

With the first gift of this magnitude to support TRIO programs at Binghamton University, Debora Elliott Ward ’76, PhD, is changing students’ lives: 

Over this past winter break, Flynn Anderson ’22 was able to conduct research at Harvard University on 3D printing live liver cells that could ultimately lead to the ability to produce fully functional organs for those with liver failure. Ward’s support provided necessary living expenses to make the experience possible. 

Patrick Saint Ange ’22 is producing a documentary film on Haitian immigration to the United States. For this senior capstone project, he’ll work in collaboration with Binghamton alumni-filmmakers and University faculty in the sociology, cinema and theatre departments. Thanks to Ward, he has essential resources to buy cinema-grade lapel microphones. 

Debora Elliott WardWard said her gift is in memory of Andrianna Gudzowaty ’77, a first-generation college student she met at Binghamton. Ward then earned both her master’s and doctorate in clinical psychology from Syracuse University. The pair remained close friends until Gudzowaty’s death in 1994. 

Ward said she wanted to support the “extras” that make a Binghamton experience extraordinary — especially for students who may not otherwise get the opportunities. She recalled how students in a Harpur Edge program traveled to Maine to shadow her on the job as a clinical psychologist, somehow finding ways to cover the costs, including living arrangements for the week of their stay. She added her son Daniel participated in an unpaid college internship that required living away from home. 

“I thought about how much my son got out of it, but also all the expenses around it,” she said. “I wanted the money to go toward helping Binghamton students.” 

This generous gift allows students to participate in activities that could change their entire trajectory in life.

— Steve Rebello, director, TRIO-Student Support Services 

About TRIO

TRIO serves first-generation college students, low-income students and students with disabilities at Binghamton.

Ward’s generosity will enable selected students to participate in “transformative life experiences,” said Steve Rebello, director of TRIO-Student Support Services.

Many students in TRIO programs choose not to participate in internships, education-abroad, research, creative endeavors and other experiential education opportunities because of the costs associated with them, Rebello said. Others have no choice but to forgo these opportunities to work minimum wage jobs to support their families and pay for school.