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As announced in late February, the Mitchell Institute has formed a new Alumni giving society to recognize Mitchell Scholar Alumni who have followed the example of the late Truc Huynh, a remarkably gifted and altruistic Scholar Alumnus, who passed away at the age of 40 in mid-June of 2022. As part of his legacy of paying it forward, Truc made financial contributions to the Mitchell Institute at a level that matched and eventually surpassed the entire amount of the Scholarship award that he received in support of his education at Bowdoin College.
With her gift to the Mitchell Institute shortly after representing Bangor Savings Bank at MILE II in early February, Wendy Gibbs (pictured above), the 2012 Mitchell Scholar from Mount View High School, became the 12th and latest member of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society. And owing to the size of her contribution, Gibbs has the distinction of making the single largest Alumni gift in the Institute’s history.
Gibbs, who earned bachelor’s degrees in Business Management and Political Science at the University of Maine and later an MBA at Husson University, said paying forward the full amount of her Scholarship has been a goal since she was a first-year college student.
“My father was a dairy farmer and my mother was a substitute teacher. They were very supportive of me but unable to help with my college tuition,” Gibbs said. “So, I know firsthand the fear and uncertainty that a high school senior can feel when they have no idea how they’re going to afford college. Hopefully, my gift will help reduce that fear for other first-generation Mitchell Scholars like me.”
Gibbs, who is now Vice President, Senior Commercial Portfolio Manager, at Bangor Savings Bank, has participated in several Institute events and programs during and after her undergraduate years. She says the Institute’s programs and events for Scholars were just as integral to her success as the Scholarship itself.
“I think that the first MILE I event I attended at Baxter State Park definitely had an impact on me,” she said. “It was during that weekend that I realized that this wasn’t just a scholarship. Behind the funds are people who genuinely care about the Scholars and are invested in their success.”
Jared Cash, President and CEO of the Mitchell Institute, recently visited with Gibbs to thank her in person for her generosity and ongoing support of Mitchell Scholars, which includes service on the Mitchell Institute Alumni Council.
“Through her financial contributions and deep engagement with the Mitchell Institute’s programs, Wendy exemplifies Senator Mitchell’s vision for Mitchell Scholars — that they give back to their communities throughout their lifetimes,” Cash said. “We are deeply grateful to Wendy for making the success of current and future Mitchell Scholars a philanthropic priority and for recognizing how her contributions can help fund the vital wraparound supports that make the Mitchell Scholarship so powerful and distinctive.”
For anyone considering membership in the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society, Gibbs says the decision to pay it forward can happen through steady giving over many years rather than a single, large gift to the Mitchell Institute. Either way, making contributions that match the amount of the Scholarship received brings special satisfaction.
“This has been a goal of mine for many years, so to see it come to fruition just feels phenomenal,” she said. “My mission was simple — contribute to the Institute to help future scholars follow their dreams.”
New and founding members of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society are invited to attend an annual reception to celebrate their philanthropic commitment to supporting the Mitchell Institute. If you are interested in learning more about the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society, please contact Mitchell Institute Director of Development Sarah Short. To see all of the Truc Huynh Alumni Giving Society members, please visit our website.