Inspired by professor's philanthropy, scholarship recipient establishes fund

When Communications Professor Karen Stout’s five-year-old daughter, Abigail, died in 2006, Western's Department of Communication Studies established a scholarship in Abigail’s name, a venture that rapidly became a group effort. Karen, her husband, J.B., Karen’s students, and many of Karen and J.B.’s family and friends across the country contributed to the fund.

Now, the Abigail Tandy Maye Stout Memorial Scholarship’s first-ever recipient, Narita G.–along with her siblings–is in the process of establishing a scholarship fund in honor of Narita's mother. Narita, currently in Boston pursuing an M.S. in Health Communication, recently wrote to Karen to share this news. 

“The Abigail Tandy Maye Scholarship inspired me to create something in the memory of my mother. It's hard to believe it will be ten years this September since she passed, and to commemorate this anniversary my sister Reetu, my brother Hamraj and I have been working with the Development Department at WWU to create an endowment. Finding ways to give back has always been a part of my life-long goal.  Unbeknownst to you, you helped lay this path for me at a very young age. Thank you.”

It was a particularly timely note to receive considering the Faculty and Staff Campaign currently active on campus, Karen said.

“I’ve known about the campaign since its inception,” Karen said. “My husband and I have been donating to the memorial scholarship for my daughter since it was created, and I was delighted to accept Angie’s invitation to be a part of the Faculty and Staff Advisory Committee. Then I got this email from Narita, talking about the impact that I had on her life. To receive that email, especially at this particular time, describing where she’s at in her career development–and for her to also describe how much the scholarship meant to her–was really meaningful to me. Realizing that the investment of those scholarship funds in Narita inspired her to develop a scholarship of her own is really quite remarkable. There is something symbolic and important for both of us in terms of honoring the lives of our loved ones by giving to other students–paying it forward, so to speak. Also, Narita’s really at the cusp of her career: after a number of years in health-related work in Seattle, she’s going to Tufts Medical School for a Health Communication degree. You wouldn’t necessarily think a student starting graduate school would be a person to start an endowment, but she recognizes the value of giving to others and helping them along their educational path. It’s so impactful on my heart to think about the ways in which she’s still developing and yet she’s thinking, ‘How can I support others?’”

The Faculty and Staff Campaign is encouraging Western’s faculty and staff to do so by contributing to the $60 million Western Stands for Washington Campaign. The comprehensive campaign supports student scholarships, faculty research, and campus programs and will come to a close on Feb. 24. Western’s faculty and staff are invited to be part of this one final push (  to help Western achieve – and surpass – this historic goal.

Video: Professor Karen Stout shares why she chose to give to Western Washington University.

Thursday, February 18, 2016 - 12:24pm
Karen Stout, Narita Ghumman Anna Eblen. Courtesy photo

Karen Stout, Narita Ghumman Anna Eblen. Courtesy photo