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Once upon a time, strangers recognized the talent and potential of Makeba Williams Boatwright, BS’98, and Damond Williams Boatwright. That investment in their education and future made all the difference.
“I’m very grateful that there were people supporting scholarships when I was a student at Vanderbilt. I benefited greatly from their philanthropy,” Makeba says. “It not only made quite the impact on my own life, but it also allowed me to help others who are trying to pursue opportunities.”
Damond echoes this sentiment. “My wife and I, because of scholarships, were blessed to leave college with little to no debt. It has been a tremendous gift that continues to help us and our family.”
“We work to not be consumers in this world, but so that we can improve and invest in the lives of others.”
Today, the couple have made good on that early support by leading, in many ways, a life of philanthropy. Both work in the health care field—Makeba as an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology and a practicing physician at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, and Damond as the regional president of a robust health care system. They also are dedicated to engaging their young children in conversations about giving back.
“Damond and I committed, very early on when our kids were born, that they needed to understand that we are a family of givers,” Makeba says. “We work to not be consumers in this world, but so that we can improve and invest in the lives of others.”
In 2016, the family did just that by supporting Opportunity Vanderbilt with the Dr. Makeba and Damond Williams Boatwright Scholarship.
“My time at Vanderbilt was truly transformative. Where I am today is a direct result of the enriching academic, social and leadership experiences at Vanderbilt. I want everyone who meets the academic criteria to have those experiences. I want to remove financial barriers to excellent educational opportunities,” Makeba says.
Though not an alumnus himself, Damond is equally grateful to the university. “My life would not be what it is today without Vanderbilt. My wife is a direct byproduct of the school. As I look at the woman that my wife is today and knowing her appreciation for the quality education she received at Vanderbilt, I cannot help but want to give back as my way of saying, ‘Thank you.’”
Learn more about Opportunity Vanderbilt.