Dr. Mortimer Neufville, (second from left) UMES interim president, with honors students, (from left): Michael Tadesse, Lauren Ritter, Yvonne Puplampu-Dove and Braia Spady.

The Division of Institutional Advancement held its annual President’s Donor Reception Oct. 13 to express appreciation to loyal supporters who helped the university reach – and exceed – its “Campaign for Excellence” goal.

Division vice president Gains Hawkins told those who attended the festivities in the Student Services Center ballroom that the campaign tally was $15 million when it ended June 30, topping a goal of $14 million set in 2002. Dr. Mortimer Neufville, (second from left) UMES interim president, with honors students, (from left): Michael Tadesse, Lauren Ritter, Yvonne Puplampu-Dove and Braia Spady. Michael Tadessé and Lauren Ritter, both juniors, and senior Yvonne A. Puplampu-Dove offered heartfelt testimonials and expressed gratitude for the scholarships they’ve received.

Puplampu-Dove, a native of Ghana who calls Lanham, Md., home, is a biology major interested in a career in medicine; possibly bio-medical research. She is the oldest of four siblings and will be the first in her immediate family to earn a college degree when she graduates in May 2012. She has a 3.8 grade point average.

“Receiving a scholarship was a surprise to me,” she said, adding, “it also brought joy to my parents.”

She spent the past two summers working as a research intern, including a stint at the University of Maryland Baltimore County tracking the migration of genes in the ovaries of fruit flies.

“It was very interesting,” Puplampu-Dove, 21, said. “I learned a lot.”

Tadessé, who was born in Ethiopia, said he had lots of college offers as a high school senior in Silver Spring, Md., but chose UMES because “I just had a feeling that I could come here and be someone.” Tadessé has a 3.5 GPA and is studying finance and marketing. He described the scholarship he received as “a life-changing award.” “I would like to acknowledge the donors for their generosity and for their contribution,” he said at the reception. “Without your support, I would not be standing here … giving my gratitude.” “Your continued support of the university,” he said, “is enormous in helping to provide a quality education in this fostering place and making us an elite HBCU.” Tadessé said some day he hopes to establish a non-profit organization to help the less-fortunate, especially children living in poverty.

Ritter, who is from Chincoteague, Va., is a transfer student from Eastern Shore Community College majoring in applied design with a specialization in photography.

Just 18, Ritter is already a junior (with a 4.0 GPA), who wants to pursue a career in commercial photography. She currently owns four cameras and hopes to acquire a Hasselblad, “the Mercedes Benz” of still photography, to achieve that goal. She picked UMES because of its reputation in arts education and for its diversity. Her scholarship, Ritter told the audience, enabled her to remain in school. “Your generosity has given me a new hope,” she said, in reaching “the honor of being a graduate“I hope I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you’ve helped me,” Ritter said. By Jim Glovier 2011 President’s Donor Reception guests, from left: Jeff Sherr, Debi Rus, and Tina and Vincent Perrotta

The donors also heard testimonials from two graduates, who had surrogates read statements about how scholarships helped them through school and find success after leaving UMES. Suzanne Waters Street, UMES’ agriculture communication specialist, said her son, Seth, is finishing work on a doctoral degree at the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Florida. Veronique Diriker, UMES’ director of development, presented words of gratitude on behalf of Nicholas Washington, a 2010 business honors graduate working for a Wall Street consulting firm.

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