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Rachel Garaghty flanked by Bobbi Cordano and Casey Martin.

Disability Services director Bobbie Cordano (left) with Buuck scholarship recipients Rachel Garaghty and Casey Martin.

Students with disabilities receive new U scholarship

By Bob San and Pauline Oo

From eNews, September 30, 2004

When Rachel Garaghty was a student at Park High School in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, she was instrumental in developing a Wheelchair Etiquette chapter taught in home economics classes throughout her school district. The effort, which resulted in a district-wide disability awareness movement, is one of many accomplishments under this go-getter's belt.

Garaghty and two other University of Minnesota freshmen--Jeanna Aaland and Casey Martin--are the first recipients of the Robert and Gail Buuck Scholarship for Disability Services. The three scholarships, totaling $10,000, will allow the students to partially or fully cover their educational expenses for a year. Garaghty will major in global studies and minor in journalism, while Aaland, who is from Fargo, North Dakota, will pursue a degree in biomedical engineering and wants to enter medical school. Martin, another native of North Dakota, intends to earn a degree in international relations and mass communication.

"If you look at the national statistics, families who have children with disabilities tend to suffer greater financial hardship than other families..." says Cordano. "A lot of [their] children will be in a place where they will need assistance to get into a first-class university."

The scholarship is the result of the recently established Buuck Family Fund, and is the University's first fully endowed scholarship for students with disabilities. Alumnus Robert Buuck and his wife Gail gave the U's Office of Disability Services $100,000 to establish the endowed scholarship fund after learning in a newspaper article last year that the University had no scholarships for students with disabilities. The article detailed the creation of the Marshall Access Education Fund, which would have been the first of its kind at the U to provide scholarships and other support for students with disabilities. The Buucks thought two endowment funds could benefit the U. (The Marshall fund is still about $11,000 short of being fully endowed; to learn more, read MAEF scholarship.)

"[The Buucks' donation] was a very generous gift," says Bobbi Cordano, director of the U's Office of Disability Services. "As our endowment fund grows, we hope to use some of this money for programming purposes, such as increasing opportunities that enhance or support learning, and offering guidance or training in leadership development and transition from college to work.... There are not very many disability offices [at universities] that have funds for students with disabilities. We are emerging as one of the few that have that in the United States."

According to Cordano, scholarships for students with disabilities can be crucial. There are almost 1,000 students with disabilities at the U registered with Cordano's office.

"If you look at the national statistics, families who have children with disabilities tend to suffer greater financial hardship than other families, and the consequences may range from divorce to the need to deplete assets to be able to qualify for certain health care services," she says. "A lot of these children will be in a place where they will need assistance to get into a first-class university."

To learn more about the U's Office of Disability Services or the Robert and Gail Buuck Scholarship for Disability Services, see http://ds.umn.edu. For information about the University's endowment and how gifts are managed, see www.giving.umn.edu.

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