The University of Arizona has announced a $4.6 million gift from the estate of alumna Sandra Aley to establish a scholarship in support of students graduating from Flowing Wells High School in Tucson.
The planned gift will establish the Sandra, Pamela, and Polly Aley Scholarship Endowment in honor of Aley's sister and mother, who both predeceased her, and which will cover tuition, room and board, and fees at the University of Arizona for five graduates of the northeast Tucson high school, where 70 percent of the student body is Hispanic and three-quarters live in poverty. After year one, the endowment will fund six to seven new scholarships a year at a four-year university for Flowing Wells seniors who have financial need and demonstrate academic merit. An analysis conducted in 2017-18 found that half of the school's graduating seniors earned a gold diploma, which is offered to students who earn at least a B in college preparatory classes or finish in the top quarter of their graduating class. The analysis also showed 48 percent of graduates planned to matriculate at a two-year college, while only 25 percent planned to attend a four-year university.
The first in her immediate family to attend college, Aley completed a degree in pharmaceutical sciences and worked in the field for several years before becoming a flight attendant for American Airlines. According to her cousin, Debra Bergman, Aley, who died in January of pancreatic cancer, inherited money from her sister and mother and was frugal.
"She felt the money that she, her sister, and her mom accumulated needed to support the graduates who could not go to college if they did not have a scholarship," said Bergman, who added that Aley wanted to help students avoid taking on too much student loan debt.
"Sandra Aley's generosity has begun making an enormous difference in individuals' and families' lives in this community, and at this university. As an endowed gift, the impact of her generosity will continue and multiply exponentially," said University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins. "I am so glad to see this new opportunity for Flowing Wells High School students to pursue their higher education goals, and I am honored that such an inspiring alumna has enabled the success of current and future Wildcats for years to come."
(Photo credit: Chris Richards)