When alumni Jim and Shay (Harter) Reese created a major scholarship, their greatest hope was to stay connected with students. On Saturday, they got their wish when they were introduced to ‘Berg senior Hannah Bilinski.
Hannah is the recipient of the Jim and Shay Harter Reese Scholarship in Memory of Rachael A. Reese. The pairing met at the first-ever Celebrating Donors & Their Scholars reception as part of Families and Fellows weekend.
It was a bit of an emotional meeting. Jim and Shay renamed their scholarship in honor of Rachael, their granddaughter who tragically died in an auto accident in August 2015, the summer between her freshman and sophomore years at Heidelberg. Ironically, the two students made a connection of their own when Rachael pledged Alpha Phi Tau Little Sisses. Hannah was already a member.
“I was so touched to receive Rachael’s scholarship,” she told Jim and Shay. “Because my family moves around a lot, I came to Heidelberg looking for a family. That was the reason I joined Alpha Phi Tau. I wanted to dig into the community and feel that support, and I found it.”
Meeting the Reeses has added to the family feeling, Hannah said.
Last spring, the Reeses received a personal thank-you note from Hannah for the scholarship, written as part of Heidelberg’s annual Thank a Donor (TAG) Day. In the note, Hannah mentioned that she was a senior, so they assumed she was going to graduate in May and they would not have the opportunity to meet her. Turns out, she will finish her coursework this December.
“We are just very excited to meet you,” Shay told Hannah.
After exchanging email addresses and phone numbers, Jim and Shay invited Hannah to their home in Wadsworth, Ohio, if she ever needed a break from college life. Hannah in turn invited them to Homecoming and Berg Equality’s AIDS Awareness Dinner in December.
But that wasn’t all. The Reeses had one more introduction they wanted to make. Following the reception, they were able to connect Hannah with ‘Berg freshman Paul Reese, their grandson and Rachael’s younger brother.
This scholarship match is one that definitely was heaven-sent!