Increasing Student Diversity

By Andrea Schrock Wenger , Director of advancement

WELCOME TO EMS! Five new students from the Dosan Dream School in Seoul, South Korea joined their host families and began orientation at EMS in mid January. Four returning Korean students arrived in January as well. Learning about new cultures and languages is one way to work for peace.

With the country’s awakening to racial inequities, alumni have asked how they can help increase student diversity at EMS. Thanks to seed money planted nearly 30 years ago, a new Students of Color Scholarship is a way to help.

The original endowment was established in the early 1990s to enable Laotian immigrant students at Harrisonburg Mennonite Church to attend EMHS. The family that provided the seed money is happy to see the scope broadened to include support for students of color from any ethnic background.

Earnings from the fund have been tapped over the years for the school’s routine financial aid process; broadening it as a scholarship will, the school hopes, invite more donor support, as well as make it more accessible.

An unsolicited gift from Chuck Hostetter ’71 designated for students of color in summer 2020, prompted review of the original endowment, conversations with the founders, and revamp.

Hostetter was moved to send a gift after running across a stack of letters in storage. The letters were sent to him by EMHS classmates while living with his family in Nigeria during his senior year.

“That support from peers meant so much,” he wrote. “I see now how my life trajectory took shape, influenced by other cultures. I’m grateful to support this fund in appreciation for what those EMHS friends meant to me, and to support the insights and gift to humanity people of color bring to school communities.” Hostetter hopes his classmates – who will mark their 50-year class reunion this fall – will join him in supporting the scholarship.

Gifts of any size to the fund may be sent to the school, designated “Students of Color Scholarship.” Recipients will be named based on an application process and financial need. Endowment funds sustain students beyond this generation, as earnings increase over time.

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