Emily Dorrance Award

When she passed away at age 23 on October 5, 1998, Emily Elizabeth Dorrance '93 was poised to make her mark on the world as an educator who had a kind and generous spirit. She also had a deep faith, and was imbued with a strong sense of community and global awareness. Emily is remembered with admiration by WT faculty members, administrators, trustees, and alumnae/i, as a vibrant leader who was the force behind the establishment of the WT crew team, who had a passion for learning, and who possessed a rare rapport with children.

Emily fully embraced the Winchester Thurston credo, "Think also of the comfort and the rights of others." In her day-to-day life, she demonstrated compassion, inner strength, and focus. While in college, she lived with a group of fellow volunteers in Pittsburgh's Hill District, running a day camp -- an experience that solidified her desire to teach in urban schools. After graduating from Bates College in 1996, and before enrolling in graduate studies at Harvard's School of Education, Emily visited a village in Malawi, Africa, where her family had established a health center for the impoverished citizens; the experience furthered her desire to serve. Emily was a Habitat for Humanity and Breachmenders volunteer, a Christian Children's Fund sponsor, and an active member of Shadyside Presbyterian Church.

In 2006, friends of the Dorrance family came forward at the request of Nancy Scott, retired WT history teacher and now a trustee, to make donations to Winchester Thurston's capital campaign in memory of Emily and in honor of her family -- parents Roy and Susie Dorrance and sisters Abby (class of 2000) and Molly (class of 2001).

"WT helped form Emily's understanding that a successful life involves being an active part of the community and giving to others," recalls Mrs. Dorrance. So when the Dorrances learned of their friends' generosity, they were eager to ensure that these donations would continue to promote the "think also" ethos that Emily embraced.

Working with Head of School Gary Niels, the Dorrances decided to use the funds to endow the Emily E. Dorrance Award, which is presented each year at Commencement to a graduating senior who, in the evaluation of the Upper School faculty, best exemplifies a student whose conduct, interaction, and leadership demonstrate the school credo. The recipient is selected by the Upper School faculty. The award includes a monetary prize, half of which the recipient will be invited to donate to a charity of his or her choice.

"Emily's life, so tragically shortened, was a busy and purposeful one of concern and care for others," says Niels. "Her life stands as a model to those WT students who will continue to come after her. The Emily Dorrance Award is a very special way to remember Emily and to ensure that her purpose lives on. We join the Dorrances in being most grateful to the friends of their family who have made this award possible."

For more information about this, or other awards, please contact Ashley Harper, Director of Advancement, at 412-578-3746 or harpera@winchesterthurston.org.

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