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Helping the Students in the Middle

June 28, 2024 | By Betsie Trew

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Anica Rawnsley

A good educator is compassionate, kind, and empathetic to all students. A great educator is all those things but also strives to create learning environments and opportunities that will enable all students to learn, considering each student’s individual ability and background. By all accounts, Anica Rawnsley was a great educator.

Former Community Foundation Trustee Janet Abernathy introduced me to Anica in 1998. Both Janet and Anica were doctors’ wives, and in this role supported the community by serving on charity boards and committees. Anica was the president of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Easter Seal Society and a member of the State Board of Directors. She served as the president of the Friends of the Citizen's Library Board and the Washington County Medical Auxiliary. She was the first female trustee of Washington and Jefferson College and also served on the Goucher College Board of Trustees.

After my initial meeting with Anica in 1998, she immediately became a faithful donor to the Community Foundation. When our emphasis was disadvantaged women and children through our Mother’s Fund, Anica responded generously. When our emphasis was art and cultural projects though our Arts Fund, Anica responded generously. And when our emphasis was broad community support through our Acorn Fund, Anica responded generously. The diverse charitable causes of these funds reflected some of the causes that were important to Anica.

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Anica and Dr. Herbert H. Rawnsley at their wedding.

But as an educator, she cared most passionately about education. And so, when it was time to create a perpetual fund at the Community Foundation that would bear her name, it was no surprise that the fund would be dedicated to education.

The Anica D. Rawnsley Scholarship Fund will support both bachelor and other post-secondary educational students, with a goal of covering fully the cost of tuition, room and board, and other related expenses, minus any government or other financial aid for the selected students. Grants will be targeted to students who are not receiving substantial government aid and/or who are not normally selected for other scholarships. The first grants are anticipated for 2025. There is no requirement as to the field of study or specific school the student will attend.

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Anica as a young child accompanied by her dog.

By helping the “students in the middle” as she referred to them, Anica did what a great educator does, she made sure that students of varying backgrounds would have access to the educational opportunities that would enable each student to thrive. With an original value of $5,000,000, it is estimated that the Fund will initially provide up to $120,000 to the student pursuing a bachelor’s degree and up to $80,000 to the student pursuing another post-secondary educational opportunity.

In addition to the Community Foundation, Anica provided for educational opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds through substantial gifts to several local charities and educational institutions. Anica passed in 2023 but her impact as a great educator will continue indefinitely because of her foresight to create so many unique learning opportunities for students.

Betsie Trew

President & CEO

*Photos of Anica Rawnsley courtesy of Washington & Jefferson College