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Tanaha Simon '13 receives the first Soderberg Scholarship

Tanaha Simon '13 got the call from her mother in the middle of a stressful day at school in Osgood, Ind. last spring.

A letter had arrived from Connecticut College.

Simon was excited but nervous – and not eager to hear what the contents might be. Then her mother told her that "The Fat Envelope" was printed on the outside.

"I got in!" Simon exclaimed, wiping tears from her eyes and hugging a confused friend who could hear only half of the conversation.

Simon is the first recipient of a four-year scholarship created last year with a $1.5 million gift from Elsa Allyn Soderberg '67. The endowed fund supports outstanding students who could not otherwise afford to enroll at Connecticut College.

Soderberg lives in Batesville, Ind., with her husband, Peter Soderberg, the president and CEO of Hill-Rom Co. The endowed scholarship gives first priority to students whose parents work at Hill-Rom and to students from Indiana, especially Batesville and Oldenberg. Simon's mother, Janice Simon, is an employee in the company's marketing department.

When Janice Simon heard about the scholarship, she suggested that her daughter research the College. When they looked online, Tanaha Simon was impressed by the College's selectivity in admitting students – and by the campus. "That's really pretty," she told her mother as they looked at photos.

Until then, Simon figured she'd go to Ball State University. But Connecticut College looked like a great opportunity.

She met with an admissions rep who came to Indiana and then spent a weekend on campus in November, staying overnight in a residence hall, talking with students and faculty and attending a play.

Simon loved it. The campus felt right. "It was beautiful," she said. "It looked exactly like the pictures."

Simon drove to Connecticut with her parents for orientation. She's enjoying her classes, including a first-year seminar, "Moving through Gender and Race," with Adele Meyers. After her undergraduate work – Simon is leaning toward majoring in English – she might go to law school.

She doesn't expect to get home often, but that's OK. She's ready to be on her own and glad to be at Connecticut College. She's also looking forward to meeting Soderberg.

"This is something I never thought would happen," Simon said. "I'm so happy!"

- Barb Nagy

September 16, 2009