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Growing commitment

Ashby Ponds awards the largest number of student scholarships to date

Created date

October 11th, 2017
Ashby Ponds student employees, shown here wearing tie-dyed t-shirts, held several community events to raise money for the Scholars’ Fund campaign. This student-run car wash was a big hit.

Ashby Ponds student employees held several community events to raise money for the Scholars’ Fund campaign. This student-run car wash was a big hit.


This fall, 25 high school employees at Ashby Ponds will begin the pursuit of higher education thanks to the generosity of the community members they serve.

“Ashby Ponds residents love their student dining staff,” says Mary Terry, who lives at the Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va. “We all derive great pleasure being served by them and learning about their future plans, including where they are going to college. I believe they also learn so much from us as well.”

This year’s Scholars’ Fund campaign raised $117,000 for the student employees as a result of several community events, like a student-run car wash.

“It’s a communitywide effort,” says Mary. “Not only do our individual residents raise money for the campaign, but our staff, clubs, and activities contribute to this very important cause.” 

Making the grade

Since the Scholars’ Fund began in 2010, generous Ashby Ponds community members have raised $465,000 in support of 112 exemplary high school employees who demonstrate a commitment to serving the Ashby Ponds community.

Eligibility requires students to 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. 

Thanks to the generosity of Ashby Ponds residents, this year the scholarship amount was raised from $4,000 to $5,000. The 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.

“I enjoy serving the residents and seeing their happiness when I see them at dinner,” says Shaida Hamidi, a recent Stone Bridge High School graduate who started at James Madison University this fall. “My favorite part of my job is engaging in conversations with residents that go beyond the typical ‘Hi, how are you?’ They truly care about me and my future.”

Rising tuition costs

The scholarships provide invaluable support at a time when the cost of attending college is at an all-time high. The Washington Post recently reported that 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.”

“This scholarship will go a long way in helping to pay for my textbooks and other expenses,” says Hamidi. 

Ashby Ponds Assistant Manager  of Dining Mariam Nabizad works directly with all of the student employees and understands, firsthand, the important impact the scholarships have on the students’ futures.

In 2012, Nabizad worked as a student employee at Greenspring, a sister Erickson Living community in Springfield. The money she received helped to finance her associate’s degree at Northern Virginia Community College.

“I am so grateful to the residents who helped me get where I am today,” she says. “I made the decision to continue my career with Erickson Living because I enjoy the residents and staff. We consider each other family. Leaving work every day, I am happy knowing that I’ve made people smile.”

Ties that bind

The generosity of the Ashby Ponds community toward its 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’ve worked at Ashby Ponds for almost four years,” says Alora Wilkinson, a recent Broad Run High School graduate who started at Virginia Commonwealth University this fall. “I’ve sincerely enjoyed connecting with a variety of different people. Many of the residents like to talk with me about my major. These connections have made working at Ashby Ponds a special experience.”