Engineering alum creates Boxer Scholarship

A 2011 VCU alumnus and donor, who prefers to remain anonymous, can vividly describe his undergraduate experience at the VCU College of Engineering (then-School of Engineering). 

The donor remembers working part-time during the week as a research and teaching assistant while spending his weekends volunteering as a student recruiter. He recalls the excitement on campus surrounding the opening of East Hall and the da Vinci Center for Innovation in 2008. 

He also remembers getting to know other students in his class. The story of one classmate has stayed with him to this day, inspiring the donor to establish the Boxer Scholarship in 2019 to benefit financially challenged undergraduate students in the College of Engineering. 

During his junior year, the donor was chatting with the classmate about a homework assignment. “He said, ‘Oh, I didn’t get around to doing that yet. I was at FedEx all night packing boxes,’” the donor recalls. In addition to paying for school, the student was supporting three generations of his family. To make ends meet, he was delivering pizzas after class each day followed by a nightly graveyard shift at FedEx. 

In that moment, the donor realized how fortunate he was to have his tuition covered by academic scholarships, he says, and that not all students enjoyed this same benefit.  

“This young man was unique, but not alone in our class,” he says. “Almost every one of my classmates struggled against some unseen adversity. I learned many lessons at VCU, but it was the lesson of the VCU student I learned best.”  

Driven by a desire to give back, the donor created the Boxer Scholarship to support meritorious students who respond selflessly to extraordinary circumstances despite experiencing sustained hardship. He named the scholarship after the Simon and Garfunkel song “The Boxer,” which tells the story of a professional boxer who continues to fight despite challenges that life has thrown his way. In 2020, the donor expanded his support for the scholarship with a planned gift. 

Jocelyn Alvarez, a Class of 2021 mechanical engineering student who is also majoring in Spanish-English translation and interpretation, is the scholarship’s first recipient. A bilingual student, vice president of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers at VCU and a former summer intern with Bechtel Corporation, Alvarez balances being a student leader in her community while practicing a passionate commitment to her academic studies.  

“This scholarship is for the boxer, for the person who knows the fight is hard but enters the ring regardless,” the donor says. “It does not pretend to fix injustice in the world or even in the classroom. It can only acknowledge that there is a fight, and it honors the students who fight it.”

To learn more about the College of Engineering, contact Brian Campbell, executive director of development, at