The following excerpt is from a letter written by Lindsey Buckheit ’15 in December 2013 to the donor in Dallas, Texas, who stewards the Emil O. Johnson Scholarship for a female scholar-athlete, which Buckheit received this year. Buckheit, a 5’7’’ forward on the Tribe field hockey team, describes herself as a “stereotypical jock,” who lived only for sports when she first came to William & Mary from Rhode Island. But the William & Mary experience transformed her, she said, and she received the Provost Award, which is reserved for athletes with a 3.5 or better GPA (3.75 for freshmen) in her freshman and sophomore years. The Emil O. Johnson Scholarship, funded by private giving and first awarded in the 1980s, typifies the tremendous impact of philanthropy on the lives and futures of students at William & Mary. The excerpt is used by permission.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks and gratitude to you. I cannot begin to explain how your generous donation has changed my life.
This is no exaggeration. If I could paint a picture of the ‘Before & After Lindsey,’ you would truly be amazed at how the opportunity to attend and play a sport at the College has been a catalyst in [my] personal growth, maturing into a young adult, and developing new and old passions.
Before I came to William & Mary, I was the stereotypical ‘jock.’ I did well in school, but had no desire or appetite for learning. I did what it took to just get by. Field hockey practice was the only reason I made it through the day. My head and heart were on the turf — field hockey was where my passion and focus lay.
What changed [when I got to William & Mary], however, (surprising myself, my parents and our head coach Peel) was that I developed a passion in the classroom. Never in my life had I been surrounded by a team, coaching staff, and athletic department that encouraged and supported its athletes to not just succeed, but surpass all expectations in the classroom. Because of this environment, I developed an uncontrollable appetite for academics, defying all ‘athlete’ stereotypes and stigmas in the classroom.
As my freshman year came to a close, Peel [Hawthorne, the field hockey coach] stood in front of the team reviewing the season. Before we were dismissed, she announced Provost Award winners. As a student whose athletics played a major role in my acceptance to the College, imagine the surprised look on Peel’s face when she read off my name.
Because of you, a field hockey player got to pursue her dream of representing a Division I college on the turf. You gave her the ability to achieve that, along with a lifelong family of 25 crazy teammates.
Because of you, a presumed ‘jock’ also became a scholar. You gave her the opportunity to expand her passions and grow at an elite institution.
Because of you, a small town Rhode Islander could afford to attend the school of her dreams, hundreds of miles away from home. You helped her grow up.
At first, you may have thought that your donation simply helped fund a field hockey player’s scholarship; little did you know you would change that player’s life. If it were not for you, I would never be in the position I am today, or have the drive and passion to fight for what seems unreachable.
Three years ago, if you told me I would be a marketing major in the Mason School of Business with an internship, I would have laughed.
Your kindness has provided me with amazing opportunities that have truly shaped me into the young woman I am today. For that, I can never thank you enough, but only hope to pass on this act of kindness to a future Tribe field hockey player one day.
Know that you have changed my life. Thank you.