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Anonymous Donor Puts Faith, and Money Into Physics Professor

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Throughout the pandemic, schools have been closed and opened as COVID-19 outbreaks have ravaged the country. The shake ups have hit both students and professors hard, making schooling difficult for both sides. At the college level, many students have had graduations postponed, delayed, or canceled altogether. Since faculty and students are unable to visit campuses, this makes a bit of sense.

Other duties have been neglected, as well. One of those duties has been faculty mail. Professors can’t have their mail forwarded to their homes, since not all of it is appropriate for a personal setting. 

As he was sifting through months and months worth of mail, the head of the Physics department, Vinod Menon, came across a peculiar package. It was a cardboard box, and it had been postmarked 9 months earlier. It weighed a significant amount, and had sparked Menon’s interest. He opened it, only to find a surprise that he never would have expected.

Inside the box, Menon found stacks of cash. Wrapped stacks of 50 and 100 dollar bills were in the package. It was a sight he’d never seen before. Menon told CNN, ““I’ve never seen this kind of money in real life in cash form. I’ve never seen it except in movies, and so, yeah, I was shell shocked and I just did not know how to react.”

When counted, the amount of money would total to $180,000. Accompanying the money was an anonymous letter, and a return address to an alias. The letter read, “Assuming that you are a bit curious as to why I am doing this, the reason is straightforward…”

The letter would go on to explain that the sender was a graduate of City College in New York. They called the learning establishment an excellent educational opportunity. At City College, according to the letter, the anonymous donor attended physics courses, choosing to study the field in-depth. They would eventually graduate with a master’s degree, go on to obtain a doctorate, and pursue what they would call a “long, productive, immensely rewarding scientific career.”

With the explanation as to why the donation was being made, the sender also provided clear instructions on how the money was to be used. The letter stated that the money should go to any “deserving junior and senior physics majors in the Department who are also doubling mathematics majors — and in need of financial support to continue their studies.”

When it comes to education costs, tuition has only risen in the most recent decades. Over the last 50 years, tuition has risen from what would be considered affordable to somewhat crippling. Many students are forced to take out loans that will take them their entire lives to pay off, especially in prestigious areas of study like science and mathematics.

The return address on the package raised even more questions, with no answers for tracking down the donor. The alias came back as Kyle Paisley, a name that never showed up on any of the graduation logs for City College. The address provided was linked to a home in Pensacola, Florida. The homeowners were caught off guard as well, having no knowledge of the donation. 

After the money was first reported, it became a subject of investigation. For over two months the origin of the money was investigated, as well as whether or not the money was linked to any misdeeds in the recent past. All investigative efforts came back clean, with no origin being found, and no ill-intent attached to it.

The college then voted on whether or not to keep the money. Unsurprisingly, the vote unanimously pointed to using the money for what it was intended for – scholarships. The box it came in is to be bronzed and put on display, as well.

For the next ten years, two fully-funded scholarships will be given to the students who need it most. Menon couldn’t be more thrilled with the idea, since his past is similar to the students that will be rewarded the scholarships. He is happy to say that students who need it the most will receive it.

 

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