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Eye on the future

Greenspring residents award more than a half-million dollars to student scholarships

Created date

August 25th, 2017
Fairfax County students, sending in green gowns on a staircase, celebrate their accomplishments at a special scholarship award ceremony at Greenspring’s Springfield, Va., campus.

Fairfax County students celebrate their accomplishments at a special scholarship award ceremony at Greenspring’s Springfield, Va., campus.


This fall, recent Robert E. Lee High School graduate Hasib Al Islam heads to the University of Virginia in pursuit of higher education. He is thankful to the people who live at Greenspring, an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va., where he has worked as a member of the dining services staff for the last five-and-a-half years. 

“Greenspring residents helped prepare me for my future endeavors by allowing me to fail and learn from an early age,” he says. “I learned that, when one fails, the ones who care about you will help you get better. All of the residents who saw me mess up orders, drop plates, and hide behind my shy demeanor didn’t belittle me, but rather, they nurtured me so that I could perform my job with confidence.”

For Al Islam, as one of 57 student employees to receive the 2017 Greenspring Scholars’ Fund $10,000 scholarship, those lessons will serve him well into his college years. 

Meaningful support

Since 1999, the Greenspring Scholars’ Fund has raised more than $3.5 million in support of more than 300 student employees. All of the recipients work for the community’s dining services department, most as servers. 

Each scholarship is funded exclusively through the generous contributions of community members and staff members. This year, donations to the Greenspring Scholars’ Fund topped $500,000, more than any other previous year.

To be eligible for a Greenspring Scholars’ Fund scholarship, a student must work at least 1,000 hours at the community during their junior and senior years of high school, achieve satisfactory grades, and maintain a disciplinary record free of adverse actions at their high school. 

The $10,000 scholarships are paid directly to the college or trade school of the student’s choice. Recipients must plan on attending a college or professional school full time in the fall.

“The Scholars’ Fund is so important because it demonstrates the pride we have in our young people,” says community member Sally Pritchett, chair of the philanthropy committee. “These students are so full of life and so kind to all of us, it would be hard not to participate in this program.”

The scholarships provide invaluable support at a time when the cost of attending college is at an all-time high. The College Board, in two separate studies, found that “tuition and fees are rising at a faster rate than the financial aid and family income needed to cover costs.”

For Samira Naeem, a West Springfield High School graduate who will attend George Mason University in the fall, the Greenspring scholarship will help relieve some of the financial burden as she pursues a degree in neuroscience. 

“The scholarship will help me pay for my tuition and reach my dreams and goals of earning a Ph.D. in neuroscience,” she says. 

Rackeb Mared, one of two members of her family attending college in the fall, also finds that the Greenspring scholarship provides much-needed assistance.

“My father supports our family all on his own, and this scholarship will reduce his financial burden of paying for my sister’s college expenses on top of mine,” says Mared, who will attend Duke University in the fall. “I am so grateful for this scholarship, and I promise not to let any of my Greenspring family down.” 

Additional support

In addition to the 57 Scholars’ Fund scholarships, two students received donor-designated scholarships as part of Greenspring’s educational endowments. 

Taryn Falkenstein, a 4.0+ graduate of Robinson Secondary and a television-radio major at Ithaca College, received the Steve and Renie Guback Scholarship ($5,000), awarded annually to a student focusing on a major or minor in communications, including, but not limited to, the fields of journalism and public relations. 

As recipient, Falkenstein will be required to perform 150 hours of volunteer service at Greenspring’s Channel 6 television studio. 

Menahil Rauf received The Kathryn R. Coleman Scholarship, a $3,000 one-year award to a student majoring in the field of accounting, business, or a related field.   

Just like family

The generosity of the Greenspring community toward the student employees extends above and beyond the awarding of the scholarships. Each day, the students and community members interact on a personal basis, providing each other with friendship and support.

“I will never forget how Dr. Clint and Dr. Vickie Lambert attended a play I performed in, and how Mr. and Mrs. Anderson attended one of my track meets during my freshman year of high school,” says Al Islam. “The fact that they went out of their way to come out to support me proves that the bonding experience at Greenspring goes beyond a server-customer relationship.” 

“One of my favorite special stories I often tell my family is about a resident who insists she call me Granddaughter and I call her Grandma,” says Naeem. “This not only shows the relationship between the residents to the young staff but also how much the residents care about us. 

“During my senior year, I was struggling and feeling a lot of stress and sadness, and as a result I became more isolated from my friends and family. However, a few residents seem to have picked up on that and were understanding toward me, which made me feel better about myself. I am forever grateful for the residents at Greenspring.”

The feeling’s mutual.

“The students’ youthfulness and enthusiasm is impressive and motivating,” says community member Clint Lambert. “They often stop and share what is happening in their lives. They remind us that we, too, were once young and ready to take on the world. We greatly appreciate their return after they start college to let us know what they are learning and are interested in doing for a livelihood.”

Many of the students attending local colleges continue to work at Greenspring throughout their studies, while others opt to come back and visit on vacations from school. 

“I can’t wait for seasonal breaks so that I can pack my bags and come back to visit my grandmas and grandpas,” says Al Islam.