Four years ago Ed Nichols, JD’70, and his wife, Janice, established two unique Vanderbilt philanthropic efforts to honor his parents through the Edward C. and Lucile H. Nichols Charitable Trust.
Each May since 2006, Vanderbilt has awarded the Nichols–Chancellor’s Medal during Senior Day, a day of activities for graduating seniors and their families held the day before Commencement. The award, which includes a cash prize of $100,000, will this year go to renowned Afghan American author Khaled Hosseini, whose 2003 debut novel, The Kite Runner, was a worldwide best-seller.
As a companion piece to the Nichols–Chancellor’s Medal, the Nicholses created the Nichols Humanitarian Fund, which encourages Vanderbilt students to become better citizens of the world and to broaden their thinking by volunteering for humanitarian efforts. Since 2006 the Nichols Humanitarian Fund has provided more than 50 students with awards to cover their educational, living and travel expenses.
These students have served in communities all over the world, including Australia, Costa Rica, India, Nicaragua and South Africa. Support from the fund is primarily focused on summer projects or those that occur during defined academic breaks.
In summer 2006 the Nicholses traveled to Kampala, Uganda, to see the work that some student recipients were doing. “These students worked tirelessly in hospitals, hospices and orphanages showing great compassion toward community members,” says Ed. “We were able to witness the courage and determination of children and families left in cities ravaged by deaths from AIDS. When I think about how remarkable these students are who work in these communities, I know that things will get better.”
Janice traveled to Melbourne, Australia, during the summer of 2008 to be part of the Vanderbilt Initiative for Scholarship and Global Engagement (VISAGE) program and participated in service activities hand-in-hand with some of the fund recipients. “The students and I learned about global warming and water desalination,” says Janice. “We saw for ourselves how little water they had and how precious a resource it is.”
The couple encourages Vanderbilt alumni to make their next vacation an active learning experience. “By donating to student scholarships, you will receive the reward of a lifetime that will keep giving in the future.
© 2014 Vanderbilt University | Photography: Daniel Dubois
Conversation guidelines: Vanderbilt Magazine welcomes your thoughts, stories and information related to this article. Please stay on topic and be respectful of others. Keep the conversation appropriate for interested readers across the map.