Imagine hiking through the highlands of Panama and Costa Rica "colorful flowers, beautiful birds chirping, floors covered in ferns, feeling nature in every step." This scenic vision is not a picture put into prose; rather it is the recounting of one trip traveled by Mary Ellen Boelhower known as Mary Ellen around UNC Greensboro's campus.
Since 2003, Mary Ellen has excelled as the executive director of development and chief fundraiser at the UNCG Bryan School of Business and Economics. She was recognized by the Triad Business Journal as a 2015 Women in Business honoree for establishing dozens of scholarship funds and raising millions for the University.
However, Mary Ellen has also made time to see the world. Belize, Nicaragua, Portugal, the Czech Republic, and France, to name a few, have been stamped on her passport. Explaining what travel has meant to her and her husband, Mary Ellen stated, "It just opened our minds, experiencing and visualizing how different people live. Every time we visit another country, we come back with a different perspective on our world and how materialistic our culture is. We realize that we are the center of our universe, but we are not the center of the universe."
Highlighting her passion for fundraising and love of travel, Mary Ellen, alongside her husband, has established the John and Mary Ellen Boelhower International Scholarship Endowment. Their testamentary gift stands to create study-abroad opportunities for students at the Bryan School.
"A lot of times when students study abroad it's the first time they went away from home," said Mary Ellen. "The independence and overcoming challenges can give a person the sense that they can accomplish anything."
Although Mary Ellen intends to retire at the end of the 2019 academic year, her gift will continue to inspire UNCG students in her absence, expanding their horizons and deepening their perceptions of the world.