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Family Tradition

Posted by on Sunday, November 28, 2010 in Giving, Winter 2010.

Susannah (BS’07), Steve, Elinor, Betsy (BA’75) and Polly Silverman

Elizabeth Shapiro Silverman’s family ties to Vanderbilt run deep. Her father, Dr. John Shapiro, BA’38, MD’41, grew up near campus on Acklen Avenue, attended Vanderbilt as an undergraduate and medical school student, and later became a renowned pathologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Betsy, as she is known, grew up in Nashville and also attended Vanderbilt (BA’75). Though she and her family now live in New Jersey, her daughter, Susannah, attended Vanderbilt, too, graduating in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in human and organizational development from Peabody.

Giving to Vanderbilt is also a tradition with the Shapiro and Silverman families. Having contributed to numerous scholarships in the medical and nursing schools and also a chair in pathology at VUMC in her father’s name, the family (including husband Steve and daughters Susannah, Polly and Elinor) established the Shapiro-Silverman Family Scholarship at Peabody a few years ago.

“We felt that this was where we could make a difference,” Betsy Silverman says. “Susannah had a very good experience at Peabody, but more than that,” she explains, “students in education majors typically do not make a lot of money. It’s important that they graduate debt-free.”

Katharine Miller and Kristine Grinnis

No one would agree more than the two recipients of the Shapiro-Silverman Scholarship: Kristine Grinnis and Katharine Miller.

“It would have been easier and cheaper to go to a school near where I live in Arkansas,” says Grinnis, who will graduate in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and history. “But I fell in love with Peabody, and I also loved that the secondary education degree is separate from the history degree. I wanted both sides—to have a full understanding of the material I wanted to teach and to be able to study teaching.

“The scholarship was like a blessing from God,” Grinnis says. “I cried [when notified] I was so excited.”

Katharine Miller, who will graduate in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and child development, says the scholarship made a Vanderbilt education affordable for her and her family. “And it has opened up so many opportunities for me between working at the Susan Gray School and doing research in Professor Bethany Rittle-Johnson’s lab. My friends at other schools have been so surprised that I’ve already had the opportunity to work with small children and to do research,” she says. “Without this scholarship I wouldn’t be here, and I would not have had those opportunities. I’m so happy—I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”


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