Scholarship gift from alumnus assists students with disabilities

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Scholarship gift from alumnus assists students with disabilities

Francesca Kurnick, B.A. '92 & M.A. '95, of Buffalo, has successfully completed her master's degree in school psychology, thanks to a scholarship created by the late Mary Ann Bagus, M.A. '70, an alumnus of the UB Faculty of Arts and Letters.

Bagus, a Cleveland attorney who died in 1987, originated the scholarship fund to benefit disabled students through a bequest of $100,000 received in 1989. She had overcome physical difficulties occasioned by childhood polio, and made gifts to several universities on behalf of handicapped students. After earning her UB master's degree in modern languages, she went on to Cleveland-Marshall School of Law.

Kurnick, the most recent Bagus Scholarship recipient, is challenged by a medically diagnosed learning disability, along with financial hardship. With help from the Bagus Scholarship, she was able to focus on her studies and use learning methods suited to her special needs, all while supporting two children, one of whom is severely handicapped.

In January 1988, Kurnick registered at UB as a dual psychology and community mental health major. "I always wanted to work with children, helping them survive the often emotionally loaded struggles they are going through," she said. Kurnick was determined to become a school psychologist, an ambitious undertaking for a woman who had not been in a classroom in years.

"I am grateful to Ms. Bagus for her generous gift," said Kurnick. "I value her sensitivity and insight, although I never met her. I faced tremendous challenges in completing my education, including my own physical problem combined with the challenge of single motherhood. Because of her scholarship gift to UB, I have been able to complete both my undergraduate and graduate education. I want to make a positive difference in the world, helping others as Ms. Bagus helped me."