The Lasting Impact of Financial Assistance

Every fall we host our annual Founders' and Scholars' Dinner where we recognize the generous SMUS community members who financially support our current student population.

Paris Lowe ’14 says she can’t imagine being where she is today – preparing for her master’s program at Johns Hopkins University – had she not attended SMUS. And she credits The Nativity School Endowment for allowing her to do that.

Paris Lowe
Paris Lowe at her graduation in 2014.

“Academically, SMUS prepared me for college. Our college prep courses began in Grade 10 and lasted until we graduated. Many students [who don’t attend SMUS] are not afforded this extensive opportunity to contemplate their career plans and how they might achieve them through either education or other means,” she says. “Teachers and other faculty spoke with me about the benefits to a college education and the ways it would help me achieve my dream. To attend Johns Hopkins University was only a faint idea when I was at SMUS, but since then, it has become a reality.”

Paris is one of four SMUS students who, since 2007, have received boarding tuition paid for through the The Nativity School Endowment. Founded by alumnus John Herpers ’64, the endowed fund is awarded to a Grade 8 student attending St. Andrew Nativity School in Portland, Oregon for the duration of their SMUS Senior School experience. The Nativity School is a tuition-free, private middle school for students who come from low-income backgrounds.

Leah Sparkman ’17 is also one of our Nativity Award recipients.

“I grew up in Portland, Oregon and really bounced around to different schools, until I was accepted at St. Andrew Nativity School. It’s been just me and mother, and she has always pushed for me to have a great education,” Leah says. “St. Andrew introduced me to my mentor, John Herpers. He coached and prepared me for SMUS and was there for me along every step. SMUS was the best four years of my life. I loved my houseparents, and I can honestly say I was able to participate in all different aspects of the school. I have made friends that I will always cherish.”

Support Through Endowment

Having a talented range of students, with diverse backgrounds, is one of the hallmarks of great schools.

Financial assistance is given to students in the form of financial aid bursaries and scholarships. There were 204 bursaries awarded in the 2017–18 school year based on need and as merit scholarships for outstanding academic achievement.

“It’s important for a school to be representative of its community. We are trying to build the best environment for young people to be successful and composition of their peer group is incredibility important to that. We need to make SMUS accessible now and in the future,” says Hugh McGillivray ’64, who supports a variety of scholarships, including the Timmis, Wilson, Walsh and Skinner Endowments that have funded a total of 44 students.

A Lifetime of Benefits

With our endowment funds now valued at more than $15 million, the impact is significant. Paired with the funds raised for financial aid through our Annual Appeal, we can make SMUS a reality for many more deserving students.

“A school such as SMUS is a privilege to attend, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that only the privileged should experience it,” says Rani Dhillon, a mother to three SMUS alumni and a longtime supporter.

For amazing students like Paris and Leah who have benefited from endowment funds, they recognize that their receipt of these awards has transformed their lives and impacted the opportunities available to them now and in the future.

Leah Sparkman
Leah Sparkman, right, and fellow boarding student Lizzie Watson in 2016.

“SMUS has definitely prepared me for college, and I have never felt more prepared. SMUS impacted me because I became a global citizen by being able to meet people from all over the world and my ability to live in a different country,” says Leah, who is currently studying at Santa Clara University and is considering law school after graduating in 2021. “SMUS also helped me find my voice and passion for life. I grew into the person I am because of the opportunities SMUS gave me and the guidance of great adults.”

Every Student, Every Opportunity

Every day, students are encouraged to explore a vast range of opportunities available to them in academics, arts, athletics, outdoor education, leadership and service. We are a community that supports our students in every aspect of their SMUS journey. “Every Student, Every Opportunity” reflects our mission of seeking the excellence in all of us.

Please join us in supporting our Annual Appeal and help us give every student every opportunity to realize their potential today and for years to come.

Donate online at Annual Appeal or contact Shara Campsall, Director of Major Gifts and Annual Fund, at or 250-370-6197.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here