Family and friends establish scholarship to honor Alexandra Grace Piepho

Ally PiephoNearly a year after first-year student Alexandra “Ally” Piepho died suddenly of natural causes in her Illinois home, her parents have announced a scholarship for Case Western Reserve undergraduate students in her honor.

“Ally was our daughter, our friend, our joy, our hope,” Wendy and Richard Piepho said this week. “She loved learning and life itself. With the grateful assistance of Ally’s many friends and her family, we hope this scholarship helps keep this spirit alive for students at Case Western Reserve University.”

Ally, 18, embraced academics and extracurricular activities with enormous energy and enthusiasm during the fall of 2012. Her courses included biology, mathematics, cognitive science and art history; classmates and professors alike later recounted the pure joy she took in learning, a passion that often inspired those around her.

Ally also took a leadership role in the Juniper College Council and forged close friendships with legions of classmates. Many of them traveled to her funeral in late December, sharing stories and comfort with her family and high school friends.

In February, the Juniper Council hosted a memorial service in Thwing Center that included recollections from classmates and professors; President Barbara R. Snyder attended, as did Ally’s parents. A common theme of the comments centered on the immense influence Ally had on people in such a short time. Several emphasized that they hoped her legacy somehow could be maintained in a formal way. Soon after, the idea of a scholarship drive gained significant momentum.

Wendy and Richard Piepho themselves made a significant donation to the Ally Piepho Learning and Life Scholarship. Other family members and classmates also donated, and organizations like the Juniper Council and the Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable also held fundraising events.

The $5,000 annual scholarship will provide support for an undergraduate upper-class student with a broad scope of learning interests and enthusiasm for experiential learning and life as evidenced by their coursework, activities and extracurricular involvement. The recipient also will exhibit a spirit of volunteerism and demonstrated acceptance of others. The university will announce the first scholarship award this spring.

“This scholarship is bittersweet,” said Lou Stark, vice president of student affairs. “While we’re still deeply saddened by the loss of such an outstanding member of our community, this scholarship in her name will ensure that generations of like-minded students will be empowered to pursue their academic dreams and will celebrate Ally’s enthusiasm for life and learning.”