“When we heard about a student who had to borrow a textbook from a classmate because they couldn’t afford to buy their own, we knew we had to step up,” Kim Gassett-Schiller ’83, ’18H explains. “We wanted to give hard-working students a bridge to help them complete their degree.” In response, Kim and her husband Philip established the Viking Completion Grant Endowment with a significant portion of their $6 million gift to Salem State. The fund provides grants to help seniors overcome the last financial hurdles they face before graduation.
Alyssa Giordano ’21 was one of the first to benefit from Kim and Philip’s generosity. She describes the moment she learned about the grant: “My phone rang, and I saw it was from Salem State. I was afraid they were calling to tell me I couldn’t graduate because I had an outstanding balance. Instead, they said ‘We have some good news.’ My heart just about stopped when they told me I was a perfect candidate for a completion grant that would allow me to earn my degree.”
Kim and Philip hope their gift will allow everyone in the Salem State community to achieve a return on their collective investment in student success. “We’re grateful for the chance to give students the boost they need at a critical moment in their lives,” Kim says. That was exactly the case for Alyssa, who adds, “I probably would have given up and not graduated if I couldn’t cover my balance. I can’t say thank you enough.”