Cristiana Quinn ’80
Cris Quinn ’80 reflects on her relationship with Wheeler, her legacy gift that honors cherished friendships, and why she chose to designate a significant portion of her estate to establish a Wheeler scholarship endowment for students of need.
Who or what inspires you to be philanthropic?
I think my career as an independent college advisor opened my eyes to the number of students who lack access to a quality education--at the secondary school level and/or at the college level. Through my work and as a volunteer advisor with students from at-risk neighborhoods, I decided that I wanted my legacy to be scholarships for students with extreme need. With this in mind, I decided to endow scholarships at Wheeler and the University of Vermont — my two alma maters.
How did you come to create an estate plan when you did?
Ha! The big “50” was looming ahead, and I realized that I had no will. Sadly, several of my Wheeler friends passed early, and this pushed me to plan for how my money will be allocated when I am no longer here. I didn’t want other people making those decisions for me; I wanted to determine what my legacy would be. In a sense, this gift to honor all those friends who passed, like Amy Kalberer, Ann Van Liew, Lisa Lancellotti, Kathy Hallmann, Nassim Hashemi and others.
How did you ultimately decide Wheeler as a beneficiary of your legacy gift?
My decision to make Wheeler a beneficiary was based on two factors. First, many of my closest friends are Wheeler alumnae—and that makes the bonds that are formed at Wheeler very important to me. However, I may have passed Wheeler by had it not been for my personal relationship with a younger alumna who is in development at Wheeler, Michele Sczerbinski Diaz ‘86. She has been a wonderful ambassador for the school and reached out to me on a consistent basis. This helped me keep my connection to the school, even though I don’t have children who attend Wheeler.
What was the single most important consideration in your decision?
The single most important consideration in my decision was really that my estate would support education. After that, it was easy to focus in on Wheeler and UVM. I hope that my gift to Wheeler will help prepare students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity, for the rigors of college and expose them to the arts and athletics. Hopefully, some of them will even go on to UVM for college under my scholarship there!
Is there an important moment, person or special occasion at Wheeler that may have influenced your decision or made a big difference in your life?
I would not point to one person or special occasion at Wheeler. I attended Wheeler for 13 years, starting in kindergarten, which was the entry point for Wheeler back then. I could point to some of my most memorable teachers, like the devoted Mrs. Carpenter in 2nd grade, the perceptive Mrs. Boucher in 5th grade, the charismatic Mr. O’Hara in Middle School...or Army, Mr. Brown and Mr. Hufstader in Upper School, Mrs. Farroba and Ms. Carlson in athletics. There were so many. However, I’d go back to the friendships I formed at Wheeler and the important role that they have played in my life.
When you think of Wheeler, what key words or phrases come to your mind?
Community, intellect, creativity.
What would you say to other alumnae/i about leaving a legacy gift to Wheeler?
First, it’s never too early to plan. Think about the issues you feel passionately about and plan now. Don’t let others determine what your legacy will (or won’t) be. If you haven’t been to campus in a while, come back and consider what your gift can do to improve the life of one child...or more.
What else would you like to share with our readers?