cover story WPC
McCord Scholarship: Full circle support

ince 2006, up to 20 W. P. Carey School juniors and seniors have received at least $10,000 a year to help them shoulder the cost of higher education. They’re McCord Scholars, participants in a scholarship program that reflects the values of the program’s namesake and funding donors, Sharon Dupont McCord and her late husband Robert K. (Bob) McCord, distinguished real estate professionals and philanthropists.

The McCords’ gift supports their belief that collaboration creates faster and better solutions — and that philanthropy should be a way of life. Participants in the scholarship program embrace this ethos through mentorship, community service, and ongoing program support long after they’ve left campus life. ASU’s McCord Scholarship is as much about giving back as receiving.

Students with shovels
Leading with the heart

Getting a McCord Scholarship means demonstrating both academic and leadership skills. The program then hones those skills as scholars mentor a first-year student and participate in monthly events focused on educational and charitable activities organized for the McCord cohort.

The mentorship program didn’t begin until the scholarship’s second year, and one scholarship recipient says it made a huge difference. “That mentorship part changed McCord from a program that just gave you money to a program that connected people and helped build the business,” explains Alia Eccles (BS Economics/Finance ’12, MBA ’13).

Federico Bryner (BS Accountancy ’13, MACC ’14) says being a first-year student mentee helped him find his footing at ASU and become a McCord Scholar himself. “I learned a lot being both the mentee and mentor that I apply to my corporate job,” he says. As a manager in the risk assurance practice at PwC, he uses the mentorship skills he started building
as a McCord recipient.

“Being a good mentor means learning how to listen and understand what your mentee is going through … putting yourself in that other person’s shoes,” Bryner continues. “Then you guide your mentees, providing information so that people can make their own decisions. I use these coaching skills in my current job, and someday my associates will become mentors themselves.” Because of the impact the McCord Scholars program made on him, Bryner helped create another mentorship program for high schoolers during his time as a W. P. Carey student.

The mentorship program — along with other group activities — contributes to the strong bond McCord Scholars share. Bryner says the program creates a collaborative community. “Whether you’re going to a park cleanup in Tempe or cooking dinner for people at the Ronald McDonald House, the program puts recipients in a small, tight-knit network,” he adds. “It gives you a leg up on campus and opens up a lot of doors.”

Opportunity rocks

One of those doors is the opportunity of the money itself, which frees students up to pursue and chase dreams, not paychecks. “I’m passionate about access to education, and the opportunity it affords one to better their financial future,” says Susan Eckman (BS Accountancy/Finance ’12). That passion guided Eckman’s activity in college, too.

“The McCord Scholarship gave me the flexibility to get involved in student engagement opportunities,” she says. It let her take on a big role when working on her honors thesis, as well. She helped design and coordinate the inaugural Fleischer Scholars program, which is a summer bridge program for juniors from Arizona high schools.

Eckman says being a McCord Scholar allowed her to do things she might not have been able to manage without the financial aid she received, such as studying abroad in China. Now a VP-level equity researcher for Voya Investment Management, Eckman learned through internships that equity research was more to her liking than CPA work, and that she wanted to move to New York to pursue that career.

“The McCord Scholarship empowered me to make the leap to Wall Street,” she says, noting that the move is a pricey one. “You have to have a security deposit and two months’ rent. I had enough savings to cover it. I didn’t need to couch surf in those early days, and that initial startup capital helped me to catapult my career.”

Eccles gives thanks for the flexibility the scholarship brought her, too. “I know people who have student loans that are the amount of my mortgage,” she says. “The McCord Scholarship has allowed me to make decisions about my career based on my interests and the life I want to live, rather than being forced to go with the highest bidder.”

That means Eccles, who’s spent her entire career at Intel, has been able to transition from her job in operations finance to a new role: data scientist. “The McCord money was a gift. So is being part of the McCord community,” she says.

Both Eccles and Bryner still live in the Phoenix area, and both continue to support the McCord community by being there for each year’s new scholars. Eccles says going back to ASU for McCord gatherings is her favorite part of the whole award. “McCord students are just amazing people,” she says. “They make me feel like they’re going to go out and change the world.”

Learn about the McCord Scholars and other award opportunities: