Published 06/03/16

Endowed scholarship honors parents' sacrifice

When Eileen Cioe ’69 was considering how to support Expanding the World of Opportunity: The Campaign for Bryant’s Bold Future, she determined that a scholarship honoring her late parents would be deeply meaningful. Increasing access to a Bryant education through student scholarships is one of the pillars of the campaign.

“My siblings and I were first-generation Americans,” explains Cioe, whose parents were Italian immigrants. “My father was a mailman and at one point, all three of us were enrolled in Bryant at the same time. That was definitely a financial burden and could not have been easy for my parents.”

"It’s about not forgetting where you come from."

Cioe recalls her mother’s response when she learned that many of their classmates were living off canned soups. “She cooked and fed hundreds of students over the years! I think my Mother’s dream was to feed the entire world Italian food.”

Cioe leveraged her bachelor’s degree in secretarial science and a master’s degree in economics and sociology from the University of Memphis into a diverse and rewarding career. She first worked in leadership positions for state and regional transportation agencies in New England and Atlanta. Her career focus shifted when she became a Certified Financial Planner. Today, Cioe is a financial services representative with MetLife Premier Client Group of Florida.

Seven years ago, Cioe’s parents died just hours apart. “We were orphans within hours,” says Cioe sadly. To honor their parents’ memory, Cioe and her brother, Robert Cioe ’73, established the Joseph and Brigida Cioe Endowed Scholarship, to be awarded to a full-time Bryant student from Rhode Island studying Finance.

The scholarship is now fully funded, thanks to a final donation from Cioe and a match from her employer.  She used the minimum distribution from her IRA to make the gift – a tax-advantaged and philanthropic strategy she often suggests to clients.

“We’ll never forget the sacrifices our parents made for us,” says Cioe. “I’ve been very successful in business and always wanted them to be proud of what I could accomplish. It’s about not forgetting where you come from. I give back to Bryant to honor them.”

Expanding the World of Opportunity: The Campaign for Bryant’s Bold Future is the largest fundraising effort in Bryant’s history. The $75-million campaign will generate the resources the University needs to achieve the transformative goals of Bryant’s Vision 20/20 strategic plan and rise to new levels of excellence and national prominence.