Since the fund was established, it has awarded over $1.25 million in scholarships to 81 Boston College students, including 22 current undergraduates. The scholarship recipients are residents of the Massachusetts Eighth Congressional District, which was represented for many years by O'Neill, a 1936 alumnus who became one of America's most colorful political figures.
"The O'Neill awards have had a significant impact on students who are academically qualified but financially needy, identifying those who otherwise could not come to Boston College and giving them the means to enroll," said Senior Vice President James P. McIntyre.
"My father was thrilled with the notion of having a scholarship in his name to help disadvantaged applicants from the Eighth District be able to attend Boston College," said Thomas P. O'Neill III, a University trustee. "My family has been very devoted [to the scholarship fund] and are proud it has been such a great success. Passing the $1 million mark is a great tribute to him and the school."
The scholarship fund was established with $1.4 million raised at a 1986 dinner, sponsored by BC, honoring O'Neill for his 50 years of public service. Since then, McIntyre said, the fund has received several additional donations in memory of O'Neill, who died in 1994.
"Speaker O'Neill dedicated his life to helping those in need and the endowment acknowledges that fact while serving as a tangible example of the University's mission," McIntyre said. "The award is a special honor for the students because they know the contributions Speaker O'Neill made to this country and look with reverence to his career. Some even aspire to careers in public service, hoping to follow in his footsteps."
Each year recipients are selected by the O'Neill Scholarship Committee, which includes McIntyre, University administrators and members of the O'Neill family. The amounts of the individual scholarships vary and are awarded on the basis of financial need and merit for four years. The committee holds a luncheon for the scholarship recipients after they arrive on campus, an event which the speaker regularly attended.
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