Nearly 300 alumni, students and parents attended the President’s Spotlight Dinner to hear inspirational speeches from distinguished alumni, guests and current seniors in support of Harvard-Westlake’s financial aid program April 17.
Alumni speakers, each of whom had received financial aid during high school, featured professional chef Jamie Gwen Bennett ’92, finance executive Kendrick Bales ’97 and Dreamworks feature animation executive Ami Kramer Cohen ’81.
“As a scholarship student so many years ago, I am forever grateful for the education and experiences that Harvard-Westlake gave me,” Bennett said. “Speaking about my memories and gratitude was a cathartic way to pay it forward.”
Coordinated by Katrina Sprague, the annual event was previously held at the Middle School, but was moved this year to the Upper School to accommodate more people.
Cohen said she hopes the event encourages more donations.
“I thought the event was fantastic,” Cohen said. “We started doing this event 13 years ago, when I was asked what I thought we should do for H-W financial aid recipients. My scholarship changed my life, so I’ve always wanted to help by sharing my story and hopefully inspiring donors to give to the scholarship fund, as well as inspiring recipients to reach for their dreams.”
President Rick Commons highlighted the accomplishments of 10 financial aid seniors.
Bales said hearing the stories of current seniors who are benefiting from financial aid is inspiring.
“It was great to hear how these individuals are contributing to the overall fabric of the H-W community, and it made me proud to be a member of the extended H-W family,” Bales said. “For donors to see a tangible representation of what their funds are doing for the community has to be rewarding. The human element is hard to ignore when the students and their families are sitting at a table with you.”