Mason names first Nancy Murphy scholarship winner

A George Mason University senior has become the first recipient of the Nancy Murphy Endowed Scholarship.

Karan Kumar, an applied information technology major, applied for the scholarship after hearing about it in George Mason’s Early Identification Program (EIP) office, where he works as an IT assistant.

The fund was started  just seven months ago by Karen Rosenblum, former vice president of University Life, and Ellen Dawson, former director of Student Health Services, along with other friends, former colleagues and relatives of Nancy Murphy. Murphy, who was the former executive assistant to the vice president of University Life, worked at Mason for 22 years before retiring in 2012. She died in January after complications from cancer at age 70.

“Nancy was such a vibrant part of the university that we wanted her to be able to continue in the university in spirit,” Rosenblum said.

The fund gives scholarships to students who were a part of Mason’s Early Identification Program, which provides access to educational resources for middle and high school students in the Northern Virginia area who would be first-generation college students.

Rosenblum said Murphy enjoyed working with EIP students from high school through college and would make a point of attending the Board of Visitors meetings where they would be recognized each year before their graduation.

Kumar was a part of the program from eighth grade through his high school graduation. Not only does he give back to the program by working in its office, he also talked about giving back to his community in the city of Falls Church. On weekends, he helps a friend plant trees in the city’s neighborhoods.

“It was a learning experience,” Kumar said. “Just feeling the sense of accomplishment in planting your first tree. I was happy I did it because I could have sat there that Saturday and played video games, but it was something I tried out and it was a good experience.”

The ultimate goal is to fund the Nancy Murphy Endowed Scholarship with $50,000. From that fund, two annual scholarships of at least $1,000 will be awarded to a Mason junior or senior who completed Mason’s Early Identification program. The fund has been supported by a number of Murphy’s family, friends and former colleagues, and it is already halfway to its goal with $25,000 raised in the past seven months.

With this scholarship, Kumar says he hopes to embody the attributes and values that made Murphy so special to the Mason community.

“Being placed alongside someone like Ms. Nancy Murphy…[I hope to] take on those values that she had, like hard work, going the extra mile to help out, being someone who’s very energetic about work, and coming in and putting the best foot forward,” Kumar said.

Kumar was awarded his scholarship on Saturday, Sept. 17.