When Pat O’Neill (Carson ’74, philosophy) told friends and family she wanted to start a scholarship in memory of her sister Siobahn O’Neill, they fully supported this idea.
All agreed that a scholarship for UC Santa Cruz history majors following in her footsteps would be a perfect tribute. They were also enthusiastic about the university’s emphasis on support for students who are first in their families to attend university.
“Many people were excited to contribute,” O’Neill said. “They want their own children to go to college and are concerned it will not be accessible or affordable.”
The Siobahn O’Neill Memorial Award became a way to collectively help deserving students cover the costs of their studies. And it sparked lively conversations among the sisters’ circle of friends.
“We have had adventuresome and memorable lives because of our university studies,” Pat O’Neill said. “I think our generation wants to express their gratitude and contribute toward the next generation.”
Pat O’Neill knows firsthand the difference a scholarship can make. A $1,000 scholarship covered a year of her rent when she was a student. And her philosophy degree deeply enriched her life.
“It gave me perspective and an ability to communicate,” she said. “I was able to imagine a world that, without college, I wouldn’t have been able to. ”
The scholarship, which will provide $1,000 per year to the winning students, is modeled on Siobahn O’Neill’s interests. After studying history at UCSC, she was offered a job at the City of Santa Cruz, and city government became her career. She was a devotee of the artists of the Santa Cruz area. Therefore, the scholarship/award emphasizes history majors with interests in art or government.
Pat O’Neill described her sister as a “straight shooter” who could make things happen. Siobahn O’Neill was a font of kindness who made many friends and loved traveling with them. In her various roles with the City of Santa Cruz, she helped protect the environment. She died in 2018.
Pat and her fellow donors hope that each person who is granted this scholarship is inspired and can imagine and create the life they have envisioned.
Gifts to support the fund can be made through the online giving portal at this link, or by mail:
The Humanities Division
Attn: Cari Napoles
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064