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Ryan Reaves Scholarship for Online Undergraduates

For online undergraduate students

If you are a UMass Dartmouth online student enrolled in one of our online undergraduate degree programs, you may be eligible for the Ryan David Reaves Memorial Scholarship.


Ryan David Reaves: a memorable student

Ryan ReavesRyan David Reaves, of Houston, Texas, was an online student at UMass Dartmouth. Ryan was able to finish his degree requirements before his unfortunate passing in December 2014, graduating cum laude with a BA in Liberal Arts. 

In January 2015, Ryan's family was presented with his framed degree, commencement regalia, and a UMass Dartmouth medallion engraved with his name. They were also provided written remembrances from Ryan's faculty, who were all saddened by the news of his too-early death.

UMass Dartmouth received a $250,000 philanthropic gift from an anonymous donor to honor Ryan's memory. The gift funds the Ryan Reaves Memorial Scholarship, which will support other online undergraduate students.

An individual of character and ability

Ryan David Reaves - UMass Dartmouth medallionAlthough they did not have the opportunity to meet Ryan in person, his professors remember a student of "character and ability" who was intelligent, creative, interesting, engaging, and "optimistic in spite of struggles with his medical condition."

He took two courses with Prof. Jennifer Mulnix: "Philosophy of Happiness" and "Philosophy of the Good Life." She recalled that "Ryan was an excellent student and a thoughtful person. While he discussed his struggles and limitations due to his health problems, he had a clear sense of direction in his life, with much hope for his future… Ryan was very reflective about his life, grateful for his life experiences so far, while holding out hope for a better future.

I truly wish that Ryan had been able to actually achieve more of his goals in life, but I know that having these goals gave him hope and an abiding sense of happiness. He talked about how he approached his experiences with a positive attitude… It was clear to me that Ryan cherished those around him, expressing sincere appreciation for the genuine compassion and care that others gave him throughout his life. Ryan will be deeply missed."

Creative contributions to online coursework

Ryan studied Spanish 101 with Prof. Christina Biron, who said that Ryan "often went 'the extra mile' in completing these varied assignments thoroughly and in ways that very effectively and very creatively applied course content. I especially admired his ability to initiate and develop stories around topics and visuals provided in the course, and I know that his classmates also appreciated his creative contributions and feedback."

Prof. Ed Thompson recalled that in his film study course, Ryan wrote "an excellent final essay on Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, focusing on the film's influence on the genre of political films. He seemed especially inspired by the film's 'one person can make a difference' theme."

In the capstone seminar for his major, Ryan studied Immigration and American Identity. Prof. Judy Schaaf noted that he interacted with his classmates "with especial insight and cordiality in our many online discussions. Our focal 'immigrant community' that semester was Muslim Americans, and Ryan created a thoughtful term project on 'Home Grown Islamic Terrorism: What it is and the Truth Behind It,' in which he explained the subject humanely, avoiding commonplace assumptions without diminishing the gravity of the subject."

Prof. Jeanette Riley, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, remembered that Ryan "finished his degree strong!"

As a final, fitting honor for such an exemplary student, Ryan's name was called during UMass Dartmouth's 2015 Commencement ceremonies.

More information

Scholarships for Online & Continuing Education students

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