The University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS) set a new crowdfunding record by raising $33,355 for the Mark Sobel Jr. Endowed Scholarship. This amount is the largest ever raised by a single campaign through the university’s crowdfunding platform called Launch UMD.
The Mark Sobel Jr. Endowed Scholarship supports undergraduate students at UMD pursuing careers in medicine. Recipients are selected based on academic merit and financial need.
“Funds like this one help us accomplish our goal of keeping college affordable and accessible for our students, bridging the gap between their need and financial aid,” said CMNS Interim Dean Gerald Wilkinson. “We look forward to providing more aid to our students in future years thanks to the generosity of donors during this crowdfunding campaign.”
Dr. Mark Sobel (B.S. ’82, zoology; M.D. ’87, Case Western Reserve University) and his wife Mary Grace endowed the scholarship to honor the memory of their son who died in 2011 of a heart infection at the age of 17. An honor roll student at Middletown High School North in New Jersey, Mark Jr. was involved in the Kiwanis youth service organization’s Key Club, the Science League and class council. He also played football, was an avid body builder and enjoyed the beach.
“Mark Jr.’s dream was to one day become a doctor,” said Dr. Sobel, an orthopedic surgeon who practices in New Jersey and New York City. “It is our wish that through this scholarship, others who aspire to the medical profession may come to realize their dream.”
In addition to honoring Mark Jr.’s memory, this scholarship also celebrates his gift of life to Frank Romano (B.S. ’75, general studies), a retired restaurant owner who lives in Connecticut. When Mark Jr. passed away, his parents donated his kidney to Romano.
Karina Steigerwald, a senior at Mamaroneck High School in Westchester County, New York, heard Mark Jr.’s story from her parents—John Steigerwald (B.A. '85, economics) and Linda Filby (B.S. ’86, general studies)—and wanted to help.
“This story of great loss and great hope had a profound impact on me,” Karina said. “I am 17 years old, the same age as Mark Jr. when he died. Hearing stories about Mark Jr. from his parents, I have thought many times that had we been 17 at the same time, we would have been friends. As I look forward to attending college, I am saddened that Mark Jr. was never able to experience it.”
Karina led the successful crowdfunding campaign because she felt it was important that Mark Jr.’s memory stay alive through the gift of giving. The 112 donations made during the 30-day crowdfunding campaign almost doubled the amount of the scholarship fund, which will support Terp students in perpetuity.
“Mark Jr. loved the University of Maryland,” said Dr. Sobel. “We have precious memories of him tailgating with us on Saturday afternoons. Mark Jr. would love to explore the campus and work out at the new weight room with his brother Jay on Saturday mornings before the football games.”
Jay plans to graduate this month from UMD with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. His younger sister Grace, who is a high school student, dreams of being a Terp one day, too.
And this fall, the Sobels added one more member to their extended family tree—Tomer Lagziel, a biological sciences major who is the first Mark Sobel Jr. Endowed Scholarship recipient.
Donations to the Mark Sobel Jr. Endowed Scholarship fund can be made at http://go.umd.edu/sobelfund.
Media Relations Contact: Abby Robinson, 301-405-5845, firstname.lastname@example.org
About the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
The College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland educates more than 7,000 future scientific leaders in its undergraduate and graduate programs each year. The college’s 10 departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research centers foster scientific discovery with annual sponsored research funding exceeding $150 million.