Loyola Magazine

Scholars who serve

France-Merrick Foundation establishes scholarship for local students interested in service

As a high school student in Columbia, Md., Matthew Dorsey, ’21, volunteered at Shepherd’s Table, washing dishes and serving food to people experiencing homelessness.

“I quickly learned that those who were in need each had their own unique story to tell,” he said. “With some, you would have to sit and talk with them to find out their stories, but for others, what they had to endure throughout their life was written all over their faces.”

When Dorsey was selecting a college, he wasn’t sure he and his family could afford a Loyola University Maryland education. But the France-Merrick Scholarship he received made a Loyola education more affordable—and offered a unique opportunity for him to engage in service in Baltimore.

Dorsey, Faith Paysinger, and Faith Williams are the first three recipients of scholarships awarded through the France-Merrick Scholarship Fund, which supports students who demonstrate moderate to high financial need, are interested in community service, and live in Baltimore City or its surrounding counties. As part of the four-year scholarship, each student accepts a work study position in Loyola’s Center for Community, Service, and Justice (CCSJ) and gains real-world experience working with Baltimore City nonprofit organizations through CCSJ.

“The hope is that the student recipients of the France-Merrick Scholarships deepen their interest in and learning through service and civic engagement,” said Erin O’Keefe, ’03, director of CCSJ and the York Road Initiative.

“Because of the student network within CCSJ, first-year students also immediately gain a community of peers and support, which helps smooth the transition to college. We are grateful to the France-Merrick Foundation for making these opportunities available to our students.”

Over the past 22 years, the France-Merrick Foundation has established a legacy of creating scholarships in Maryland universities and for Maryland residents. The organization has developed six community service-based scholarships—including this scholarship at Loyola, which was formed through a $500,000 gift.

“Through these scholarships, young people can access college and also have opportunities to build their citizenship skills,” said Amy Gross, executive director of the France-Merrick Foundation. “Obviously a college education will help further a career, but because France-Merrick is interested in the whole person—as I know Loyola is—we have prioritized service as a combination aspect to scholarship. We are supporting the kinds of students that we want to be future leaders in the world.”

Gross worked closely with Loyola’s office of financial aid and CCSJ to create a distinctive opportunity for the students who would receive the scholarship.

“What was compelling about the proposal was actually the collaborative nature of knowing that our interests are central to Loyola’s mission,” Gross said. “It felt aligned and authentic on both sides.”

The conversations with Loyola helped the France-Merrick Foundation clarify its strategy to support increasing access and completion for first-generation and/or underrepresented students in higher education, Gross said. She hopes the Loyola students receiving the France-Merrick Scholarship will benefit in many ways.

“I want the students to be able to thrive in their college experience, to feel connected to their life’s purpose and the community they are serving, and to have a clear understanding about how they want to apply their learning in the future,” she said.

This year, as first-year students and the first recipients of the scholarship, Dorsey and Williams are serving at the Don Miller House, which provides housing to low-income single adults who have AIDS.

Paysinger, a Baltimore resident who plans to double major in physics and engineering, is serving at Govans Elementary School.