Claudia Raines with her student scholarship recipients

On April 20, more than 150 attendees gathered at Exhibition Hall for the inaugural Scholarship Brunch. The event celebrated student scholarships and extraordinary philanthropy by bringing current students together with the benefactors who are making their scholarships possible. Donors were able to see firsthand the impact their giving is having on the students receiving their scholarships — proving there is no greater investment than a Georgia Tech student.

Chad Sims, BA 2015, served as the emcee for the festivities. Sims is the 2024 recipient of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award and serves as a member of the Scheller College of Business Young Alumni Advisory Board and the Georgia Tech Alumni Association Board of Trustees. A scholarship donor, he shared the impact the impact his Tech Promise scholarship has had on his life and how he and his wife Ashley, BMED 2016, give back to express their gratitude for all the opportunities they were afforded because of their Georgia Tech experiences.

Sims then welcomed President Ángel Cabrera, who thanked attendees for their key support and talked about how access and affordability are essential to realizing Georgia Tech’s mission of developing leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. Tech alumni, he said, “know there are few things more effective at making a difference in the world than enabling a talented young person who may not have the resources to attend Georgia Tech.” 

Three undergraduates followed Cabrera to talk about the impact their scholarships have had on their lives. Second-year computer science major and Puerto Rico native Ariana Mattos Cruz told of applying to Georgia Tech on a whim, assuming that acceptance was unlikely. But when Tech officially offered Cruz a spot, one hurdle remained: how to pay for it. “My scholarship was what made it possible for me to be here,” Cruz said.

Braden Anderson, a third-year mechanical engineering student from Montana, said he was inspired to pursue a career in the aerospace industry after seeing SpaceX rocket launches while in middle school. As a member of the Yellow Jacket Space Program, Anderson has helped launch three different liquid-fueled rockets, with more in the works. “Because of this experience,” he said, “I will be interning this summer at SpaceX, the same company I dreamed of working for as a kid. None of this would have been possible without Georgia Tech and the scholarship support I have received.”

Third-year biology student Connor Mack of Conyers, Georgia, shared that he arrived at Tech with two dreams: to play Division I sports and to enter the field of medicine. After two seasons as a defensive back with the Yellow Jackets football team, Mack said, “I realized that football was not my only option for a successful future.” He added that, thanks to scholarship support, he has been able “to focus all of my energy on my goal of becoming a doctor.” 

Claudia Larrondo-Raines offered her perspective as a supporter of student scholarships. She and her husband Paul Raines, IE 1995, credited education with propelling them to success, and they began supporting scholarships to invest in others. Since Paul’s untimely death in 2018, Larrondo-Raines, and their children Victoria Raines, BA 2016, and Julian Raines, BA 2021, have sustained that tradition. She said, “My kids and I are committed to continuing our scholarships at Georgia Tech in Paul’s honor.” Larrondo-Raines closed by describing how fulfilling it has been to meet with students and learn about all of the extraordinary things they are doing.

This inaugural event is set to become an annual tradition, with plans underway for a celebration in Spring 2025.