Class of ’97 Celebrates With Endowed Scholarship

Like many great stories, this one begins with a mother. Last November, as Caren Byrd Borland ’68 watched her daughter, Liz Borland ’97, approach her 25th Smith Reunion, she decided to offer a suggestion: Why not celebrate this milestone by starting an endowed scholarship with her class, and benefit from the Here for Every Voice Gift Matching Program? She also reached out to Bilge Bahar ’97, with whom she had become very close as a mentor and colleague.

This suggestion was far from rhetorical. Caren Byrd Borland’s class had come together for its own 25th Reunion to become a powerhouse of Smith philanthropy and volunteerism. And, thought Caren Byrd Borland, a managing director at Morgan Stanley, what better way to show support for Smith than funding scholarships? “You can give to a nonprofit, but if you give to a woman who will then run that nonprofit, that’s even better,” she says.

“My mom had been talking to some friends from her class,” explains Liz Borland, a professor of sociology at The College of New Jersey. “They’re now wishing that they had established a scholarship fund early on because they realize how much it would have accrued. I thought it was an inspiring idea. So, I contacted my class fund officers and the momentum just took off.”

Several of the class officers had been thinking about how to increase the impact of their annual contributions to mark their Reunion. When an endowed scholarship was brought up, “everyone was uniformly excited,” says Sherry Fiore ’97, Reunion co-chair and senior donor relations officer at Dartmouth.


“I know how important it is to draw top students,” says Liz Stuart ’97, Smith Fund co-chair and professor and vice dean at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “I was enthusiastic because this combines an effort our class can get behind, an endowment source that I feel strongly about as core support for the college, and crucial funding for scholarships. And we’ll be able as a class to contribute to this account forever, and help it grow to support more students.”

Quick action followed. Within days, a lead group had pledged the amount needed to qualify for a Here for Every Voice match (a collective gift of $100,000 earns a $50,000 match funded by a generous anonymous donor), and the Class of ’97 Scholarship was created.


Smithie excellence came into play, too. “Everyone likes to be competitive at Ivy Day and have a nice number announced next to your class’s name,” says Fiore. “That motivated me to give more than I might have considered, to make sure we could reach the level to create an endowed fund.” 



"When we pool together, we can inspire and challenge one another to stretch our gifts. The collective experience of giving adds to the sense that our gift will do more than if we had given individually.” -Liz Borland ’97


The Right Time

For many in the class of ’97, it’s a time in their lives when priorities are shifting, and when their shared Smith experiences are coming into higher relief.

“It’s really meaningful to be able to contribute back, to help other students experience what we got to experience,” says Stuart, who sees the endowed scholarship as a way to get classmates thinking more broadly about how they can contribute to Smith, both today and in the future.


Berit Oskey Coleman ’97, a freelance author and the class treasurer, not only loves the match (“Matches are like free money,” she says) and the collective that allows people to give what they can, she also sees the namesake scholarship as her class “maturing.” “At past Ivy Days, when Reunion gifts were announced, it’s felt a bit like being a kid wondering how you’ll ever be able to afford an apartment when you grow up. How could our class possibly compete with the millions given by some classes? This feels like the first taste of how we can do that.”

“Smith is a really special experience,” says Liz Borland, who is delighted that the endowed class scholarship will open up opportunities for many students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. “Smith gave me great resources, skills, and connections with other people. There’s something amazing about a Smithie. I feel proud of being part of that lineage. It’s a lifetime connection and resource that we have to draw on.”

“As an international student from a developing country, Smith’s offer of a scholarship was an important factor in my college choice,” says Bahar, founder and managing partner of Caria Financial Advisory. “I’m proud to support Smith as a small token of my appreciation for an excellent education, and amazing, lifelong friendships with women who have had a defining positive influence on my life.”

Mentors & Friends


Dig into the classes of ’68 and ’97, and you uncover the tremendous power of Smith networking. Caren Byrd Borland ’68 first met Bilge Bahar ’97, then a Smith senior, at an investment banking recruitment session. Impressed by the young Smithie, Borland helped bring Bahar to Morgan Stanley. They developed a close friendship during their 15 years as colleagues.

Fast forward 20 years or so, when Bahar, now living in Turkey, chose to seek medical treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. Borland reached out to her Smith network in the area to see if anyone could help. Enter classmate Susan LaPine ’68 who welcomed Bahar to her home.

“I feel blessed to have met Caren, and through her, Susan,” says Bahar. “I continue to learn so much from these women who provide me with inspiration on how to lead a meaningful and compassionate life.”

Very active in the Smith College Club of Cleveland and a former president of the Alumnae Association of Smith College, LaPine has helped many younger Smithies over the years. “I get a huge lift out of the idea that you can connect that closely with someone who is decades younger, but because we have Smith College in common we’re equals. We’re friends for life. I feel energized. I learn from them. They learn from me. There’s an electricity and openness that is a gift.”

By Nicole Pellaton

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 Smith Alumnae Quarterly.

To learn more about supporting scholarship aid at Smith, please contact Betsy Carpenter ’93, associate vice president for development, at 413-585-2052 or


Liz Borland marches in her first Alumnae Parade at the age of 3, with mother Caren Byrd Borland (right) and Donna Larson Day ’68, both celebrating their 10th Reunion.