Cecelia Kauth’s father encouraged her to seize any opportunity that came along, and that lesson seemed more important than ever after he died in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
“After what happened to my dad, I wanted to make a change,” said the upstate New York native. “I’m from a small town and it’s really homogenous, so I wanted something that would open my eyes.”
Following the attack, Kauth learned about a scholarship fund for the children of 9/11 victims. She used the money to pay tuition at the University of San Francisco.
Kauth, who graduated in 2008, is one of nearly 1,700 students who have received need-based scholarships from the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund. It was set up after 9/11 to help children whose parents died or became disabled in the attack.
“These students should have every opportunity that they would have had, had their parents survived,” said Rhianna Quinn Roddy, the fund’s director.
During her years at USF, Kauth fell in love with The City.
“I met people from all different areas, was introduced to things I wouldn’t have been in my hometown — new types of food, going to shows,” she said. “I was really amazed by all the diversity.”
Getting to know San Francisco left Kauth with a desire to learn more about the rest of the country. This summer, she embarked on a three-month bicycle trip from Portland, Ore. — where she moved after graduating from USF — to New York City.
“It really gives you an appreciation for the vastness of the country,” she said after arriving at her mother’s home in upstate New York, having pedaled some 3,800 miles.
The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund, set up a week after 9/11, is still seeking eligible children of people who died or were disabled in the attack.
$62.9M Scholarship money distributed to date
1,697 Students who have received money
$17,550 Average scholarship amount last year
Source: Families of Freedom