Removing barriers

New H&S scholarship helps nontraditional students

Goldie Zimberg (B.A.’72/H&S) moved back to Richmond in 1951 with her husband, Yale H. Zimberg, M.D. (M.D.’51/M; H.S.’56/M), so he could complete a surgical residency program at the Medical College of Virginia. While he studied and worked, she pursued a degree in English at Richmond Professional Institute.

What she found at the institution that would become Virginia Commonwealth University was a culturally and racially diverse community and the chance to engage in small class settings that allowed her to forge close relationships with professors and fellow students. As an older student and parent of three children, Zimberg considered herself to be an especially valuable contributor to class discussions and debates.

She went on to earn a juris doctor degree from the University of Richmond in 1980 and built a successful career as an estate attorney. Zimberg is now in her 80s and retired from law practice, but her pride as a VCU alumna is stronger than ever.

Her VCU diploma hangs prominently in her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, as a reminder of her determination and success.

Knowing the extra effort required to earn an undergraduate degree as a nontraditional student, Zimberg established a scholarship in December 2014 with a gift of $56,000.

Created to support students beginning or returning to school later in life, the Goldie S. Zimberg Scholarship will be awarded for the first time in fall 2015. The scholarship is open to students of any major within the College of Humanities and Sciences. The award is based on the applicant’s potential for academic success, capacity to graduate and a statement illustrating how the scholarship will make an impact on his or her life.

Dean of the VCU College of Humanities Jim Coleman applauds Zimberg’s generosity in providing this special opportunity.

“A college education, as it did for me, can open one’s eyes to opportunities they might have never previously imagined and can propel one on a trajectory toward a deeply meaningful life and career,” Coleman said. “Yet the financial cost can be the largest obstacle for so many people to pursue their dreams in college. Scholarships ... are the most effective way to remove the barrier for talented, hard-working and dedicated students to pursue their dreams and experience the transformational power of a university and to take advantage of all a university has to offer.”

Zimberg hopes the scholarship will inspire and encourage the pursuit of those same educational goals that she achieved four decades earlier. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to give back and provide other nontraditional, older students with the chance to study at VCU. With the rising costs of tuition, I know scholarships are more important than ever.”

To learn more about the College of Humanities and Sciences, contact Bethanie Constant, senior director of development and alumni relations, at (804) 828-4543 or