Scholarship Support Goes Global

By by Sherry Karabin

It’s been just over a year since Christine Mar ’65 was on an eight-month trip to New York City, working in Barnard’s development office on fund-raising and alumnae outreach. She returned to Hong Kong in November 2013 and reactivated ties to the Barnard Club of Hong Kong, a vibrant club that she helped establish, and where she continues to serve as a director and volunteer fund-raiser. In Hong Kong, Mar rekindled her fund-raising activities— asking Barnard alumnae there to provide assistance for Asian students from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines to attend Barnard. Within five months, she had helped raise more than $150,000.

For the scholarship fund-raising effort, Mar partnered with Long Island native Angela Bow ’85, currently president and a director of the Barnard Club of Hong Kong. Although neither Mar nor Bow received financial aid as Barnard students, they recognize the importance and impact of scholarship support. “While historically very few students from Asia have requested financial aid, in the past five years, we have seen the numbers trend upwards,” says Bow.

Charles Target Mar called all 84 names on the Hong Kong alumnae list to explain the concept and persuade the person on the other end about the very real need for support. While there are many different financial- aid options open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents applying to college, the resources are limited for international students.

“For international students who complete the form to be considered for financial aid, we initially review the applications focusing primarily on their academic and personal merits,” says Jennifer Fondiller ’88, dean of enrollment management at Barnard College. “We provide some full and partial scholarships, but we cannot provide funding for all the exceptional international students who apply, which is disheartening.”

According to Beth Mauro, executive director of individual giving at Barnard, there are limited financial-aid resources for the increasing numbers of international applicants. “We are especially grateful for efforts like the one in Hong Kong, which allow us to offer support to more international applicants,” she says.

Born in Shanghai, Mar spent eight years in Hong Kong before emigrating with her parents to New York. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in history from Barnard, she lived in Japan and Maryland. She has resided in Hong Kong since 1982, but visits New York annually. Fluent in three Chinese dialects and English, and with some knowledge of Japanese, Mar served as Project HOPE Hong Kong (now Children’s Medical Foundation) Asia executive director for 12 years, raising money for a state-of- the-art pediatric hospital in Shanghai and for programs to improve the skills of the pediatricians.

Bow, who is one of four sisters to attend Barnard, now lives in Hong Kong with her husband, Jean Claude Humair, and daughters Alexandra and Isabelle. A managing director at Credit Suisse, Bow heads up operations for Japan and emerging Asia markets and is the market leader for the Philippines.

Says Bow, “Christine had the skill and passion, and made the time to fund-raise her priority. I did not have direct fund- raising experience and between raising two teenage daughters and running teams of bankers, I had very limited time.” Angela was, however, able to tap into her marketing skills and leverage her corporate experience to boost the effort. The women established an ideal partnership.

Bow and Mar made it clear to Hong Kong alumnae that the goal of the scholarship fund is to support the Barnard education of the next generation of female leaders from Asia. In addition, Bow worked with Credit Suisse to sponsor a Hong Kong reception for prospective Barnard students. The reception took place at the end of August 2014, and attracted over 50 people, including Barnard’s director of admissions, Carolyn Middleton, several alumnae, and the head of the bank’s recruitment office. Bow has also partnered with the College’s director of career development, Robert Earl, to recruit students for internships with Credit Suisse in Asia. “Schools like Harvard have a very supportive ‘old boys club,’ and I am trying to create a similar network for Barnard by increasing our international career development,” Bow says. “I am hoping to secure three strong Barnard candidates for the five available internships we have in Asia this year.”

The scholarship drive also resulted in a fund created by Charles Target, whose wife, Lisa Stewart ’80, passed away in May 2010 after a long battle with cancer. Stewart built a successful investment firm in Hong Kong that specialized in the Asian economy. “My wife was proud of her Barnard experience and very supportive of the education Barnard gives,” says Target. “Lisa first came to Asia from New York (and Columbia Business School) in her twenties and straightaway fell in love with the place, deciding to make her career here. So when the Barnard Club of Hong Kong initiated the scholarship drive, Lisa’s father, Bill Stewart, and I thought it brought Barnard and Asia together in a way that fit very well with Lisa’s interests.

“Our eldest son is a senior at Columbia and that was another link,” says Target. “I cannot think of a better way to remember Lisa than by supporting talented students from Asia attending Barnard.”

Bow and Mar are optimistic more donations will come in as club members and others see the direct impact of the scholarship funds. Says Mar, “It is only fitting that we, who have benefitted from a Barnard education, should enable future generations to benefit as well.” 

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