Doors open for first recipient of the Opportunity Fund

by Ciara Brennan ('17)


SUMMARY: Gabriela Moreno, a rising freshman from Springfield, VA, has been chosen as the first recipient of the College of Arts and Letters Opportunity Fund scholarship, which seeks to increase access to historically underrepresented students.

Gabriela Moreno visited the JMU campus five times before deciding it was her future home. “I fell in love with the campus and the campus environment, the way everyone seemed so happy and in love with JMU. The excitement that could be felt everywhere on campus, especially at the football games, is what really drew me in.” 

Moreno is the first recipient of the Arts and Letters Opportunity Fund scholarship, a fund created by the College of Arts and Letters in 2019 to increase access and support historically underrepresented students, first generation students and those from modest means in the college. The fund, which was debuted on Giving Day the same year, received widespread support from faculty, alumni and current students. first-generation student himself, Dean Robert Aguirre said, “Throughout my academic career, I’ve had a special passion for helping students navigate the often-difficult terrain of a university education. 

For Moreno, thscholarship, which provides $5,000 annually over four years, has helped to reduce the cost of attendance greatly. “My mom is a single mother, and she didn't work for three months during this pandemic, so it was up to me to work as much as I could in order to provide for the both of us,” Moreno said. The scholarship “took some weight off both me and my mom’s backs.” 

The rising freshman has declared a double major in international affairs and justice studies. She says she is most excited for her international affairs classes, where she will learn more about foreign policy and how other countries operate differently from the United States. “I'm also excited about electives because I want to take classes in as many different areas as possible.” 

As the fall semester draws nearer, Moreno says she is most looking forward to contributing to and being part of the JMU environment. “Every time I visited campus, the students looked so happy to be able to call themselves a JMU Duke and I really want to share in that and be part of that as well. 

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Published: Friday, July 31, 2020

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2021

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