Shine On: Reflection on Four Years in the Davidson Spotlight
A lot can change in four years, especially if those four years are in a place as unique and as high-intensity as Davidson College. Senior Bealela Donnelly ’15 knows firsthand how such an experience affects your passions and who you are.
“I think I’ve matured a lot since coming to Davidson,” she said. “I’m more responsible, better at handling challenges, and more open to new ideas.”
Not surprising for someone who has dedicated her time at Davidson to a mix of demanding and rewarding activities, on top of a rigorous course load. For the psychology major, these four years have involved countless dance practices and performances as a member of the Davidson Dance Team and as a Dance Ensemble performer and choreographer, as well as multiple positions as a student staff member in the Residence Life Office, and involvement with Multicultural Affairs and the Black Student Coalition.
“The support for activities like Dance Ensemble gives me the opportunity to shine and helped cultivate my love of dance,” Donnelly said. “There is so much encouragement from the student body, and knowing that people pay to see us dance in the Dance Ensemble show is an incredible feeling.”
Aside from her passion for dance, Donnelly also spent time as a Davidson cheerleader, an opportunity she views as being distinctly Davidson.
“Only at Davidson could I have joined the cheerleading team, never having cheered in my life,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing at first, but I did my best and my coach saw potential in me I didn’t realize was there.”
Donnelly, who attended a Quaker high school in Baltimore before becoming a Wildcat, cited the shared values of community responsibility and accountability as what initially attracted her to Davidson. Once admitted to the college, it was the generosity of Davidson scholarships that allowed Donnelly to finance her college education. She is the recipient of the Ann Garrou Dickey Scholarship.
“A lot of people who would thrive here academically don’t have the financial resources to pay upwards of $50,000 a year,” she said. “The generosity of donors allows the quality of work before college to shine though and bring strong scholars who have a lot to offer to the Davidson community.”
To Donnelly, who is considering graduate school to merge her love for psychology, business and education, the prospect of graduating and heading into the real world is “so exciting,” though also bittersweet. “It is a little sad to part ways from friends and faculty here, but I’m ready to start a new part of my life. Davidson did a really good job preparing me for the next stage of life.”
Davidson’s Got His Back: Sal Del Giudice ’15
Sal Del Giudice ’15 is always on the run, quite literally. As a member of the Davidson Men’s Track and Cross Country team, the economics major weaves his way through a year measured in the three athletic seasons spread out across it: cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter and its outdoor counterpart in the spring.
In addition to running upwards of 80 miles per week, the Macedonia, Ohio, native also serves as president of Omicron Delta Epsilon—The International Economics Honor Society—and has experience as a statistics teaching assistant and researcher, working with faculty on economics research, including a project with Chiquita.
“Professor Fred Smith of the economics department sat me down and was the first person who made me believe in myself,” he said. “He told me ‘You can do this,’ and entrusted me with research projects as an undergraduate. No one had to do that, but everyone on Davidson’s faculty and staff is personally invested in seeing you succeed. I am profoundly appreciative of all that Dr. Smith decided to invest in me, and I hope he knows the impact his teaching and support has on his students, both academically and on a personal level.”
Along with gratitude, the senior possesses a love for Davidson that shines through when he thinks about his mentors and teammates, the joy and beauty that spring on campus brings and the scholarship support that helped get him here.
“My mom has said if we hit the lottery, all of that money is going to The Davidson Trust,” joked Del Giudice, a first-generation college student. “The financial support of scholarships has been absolutely instrumental in having the opportunity to come here. I am so grateful for that opportunity, and I don’t want to waste it.”
Beyond the support of the Trust, Del Giudice also receives the Allen V. Beck Athletic Scholarship for track and cross country, and the Clydie and E. Fielding Clark Scholarship, awarded for excellence in the study of economics.
“The Becks live in Davidson and always invite the recipients of the scholarship over for dinner and come out for the track and cross country meets,” he said. “Having that moral support—things like home-cooked meals and people cheering us on at our meets—in addition to the financial support is so important for a program like ours.”
As he wraps up his final spring at Davidson before starting a position as a public investment analyst in Charlotte, Del Giudice reflected on what brought him here in the first place.
“I was sitting at one of the tables in the Union during Decision Davidson, listening to a conversation that some track guys were having,” recalled Del Giudice. “They sounded so intellectual and rather intimidating, but I knew if conversations like that happened here, I wanted to come to Davidson.”
“When picking a school, I think it’s important to ask ‘What will your school do for me?’ and not just the other way around,” he continued. “When you come to Davidson, you are taught how to learn. The people around you will change the way you think about ideas and questions. And you know that everyone who has gone to this school is going to have your back because, in the end, we’re all Davidson.”
Legacies in the Making
Beth McCaw ’92 lived on a hall with two other “legacy kids”—all with fathers who were Davidson alumni. McCaw’s father, David McCaw, is a 1957 graduate, and the other two dads were from the classes of 1967 and 1970. It was a coincidence, some would say, but to her, it highlighted the legacy Davidson creates among its alumni and their families.
“Generation after generation, it’s about finding your way back to Davidson,” she said. “I’m glad our family can be a part of supporting the continuation or the very beginning of that same kind of legacy for other students.”
That’s exactly what her family does through the McCaw Family Scholarship. Originally an idea from McCaw and her husband, Yahn Bernier, the scholarship was to honor David McCaw and his deep relationship with, and love for, the college.
“After we talked to my parents about it, we decided we all wanted to contribute and make it a family scholarship,” said Beth McCaw. “Everyone in our family—my parents, my brother—is committed to learning; we feel like the journey is never over. This is a perfect way to connect with the place where our journeys began and spark in future students an enthusiasm to never stop learning. We also love the idea of helping students begin their lives in a debt-free way and able to pursue careers that are meaningful to them.”
McCaw’s Davidson journey was one filled with lessons and special relationships—all things she holds dear today. It’s the type of educational experience she and her family are committed to protecting into the future.
“I feel very grateful to have received a liberal arts education,” she said. “It’s something that’s in danger of being lost, especially at major universities. My husband works in technology, and half of the employees at his company are artists in some way. The need for the ability to think creatively and analytically will never go away. Davidson contributes to the educational environment in such a significant way, and it would be a tragedy to lose this kind of education.”
“I also love that we’re creating a much richer and more diverse environment at Davidson,” she continued. “That’s the world we live in, and I’m glad to see the college reflect more broadly what the world is. I know Davidson students will be even more successful in the world because of the growing diversity on campus.”
Last fall, McCaw was named President of the Washington Women’s Foundation in Seattle. She lives in Bellevue, Wash., with her husband and their eight-year-old daughter.
Davidson sustains a singular commitment to making an exceptional liberal arts education accessible to the finest students, whatever their talents and ambitions.
Because attracting students of diverse excellence is critical to every aspect of the college’s mission, 50 percent of funds raised through the current Game Changers: Inspiring Leaders to Transform the World campaign support scholarships.
Learn more about the campaign, and nominate a game changer at www.davidson.edu/gamechangers.