Citrone family endows two Odyssey Scholarships
Through their generous gift, Elon Trustee Cindy Citrone P'17 and her husband, Rob P'17, will make an Elon education possible for promising students with significant financial need.
Elon Trustee Cindy Citrone P'17 and her husband, Rob P'17, of Southport, Connecticut, have supported one of the university's top priorities by establishing two Odyssey Scholarships, making an Elon education possible for promising students with high financial need.
The gift from the Citrone family is one of several recent major gifts from parents and alumni to support the Odyssey Scholars program, a highly selective, four-year program that includes some of Elon's largest endowed scholarships.
The Citrones’ commitment will create the Horizons National Odyssey Scholarship, which will be awarded to students who have completed the Horizons National program prior to enrolling at Elon. Horizons National is a tuition-free, academic and enrichment program that serves low-income, public school students at sites throughout the country.
“Rob and I believe in supporting great causes and great people and organizations that have a vision and think outside the box, and we believe Elon and Horizons are a perfect fit,” Cindy Citrone said.
“There is no student more perfect to receive these Odyssey Scholarships than a Horizons student," Citrone said. "Horizons provides an excellent K-12 experience for students who might not otherwise have such an opportunity, and Elon provides the same excellent experiential learning opportunities and support for these students through the Odyssey program.”
Citrone has been associated with the Horizons program in New Canaan, Connecticut, and been impressed by their results serving disadvantaged students. Elon parent Jane Stoddard Williams P’13 serves as chair of Horizons’ national Board of Directors.
Citrone sees an equally strong commitment to this work in Elon’s Odyssey program, which serves students who are frequently the first members of their family to attend college and have achieved academic success while overcoming challenges.
“It just made sense and gave us the ability to knock it out of the ballpark and support two of our best investments and to maximize our investment,” Citrone added. “Both Horizons and Odyssey help students be more successful, and isn’t that the dream of both of these programs?”
In addition to annual tuition assistance, the Odyssey Scholars program includes a stipend for books and supplies, and a one-time, $4,000 global study grant to be used for an approved study abroad or Study USA experience. The Odyssey program is part of Elon’s Center for Access and Success.
This is the latest philanthropic commitment from the Citrones, who are among Elon’s most generous donors. In 2016, the couple made a major gift to fund a Design Thinking initiative at Elon, enabling the university to infuse this innovative approach to problem solving into academic courses and student experiences outside the classroom.
The Citrones were also lead donors to the recent School of Communications expansion. The spacious Citrone Plaza welcomes visitors to the new communications facilities and seamlessly connects the campus to the Town of Elon. In addition, the couple previously contributed significant matching gifts during the annual ElonDay programs, helping to ensure the largest single days of giving in Elon’s history. Their daughter, Gabriela, is an Elon senior.
Also supporting the Odyssey Scholars program with a major gift is Elon parent Katie Simon P’19, of New Vernon, New Jersey, and her family foundation, the William E. Simon Foundation, which supports initiatives that strengthen education, faith and family. This gift will provide annual financial assistance to allow Odyssey Scholars to participate fully in the Elon student experience, including the university’s engaged learning programs. Simon is a member of Elon’s President’s Advisory Council.
“Education has been a very important passion of mine,” said Simon, a former teacher whose daughter, Maddie, is an Elon sophomore. “I feel it’s very important to give to scholarships and to make education accessible to a wider range of students, particularly first-generation college students. Education helps to break the cycle of poverty and gives those students the ability to affect change.”
A third lead gift to this program was made by an alumnus from Elon’s Class of 2000, who has been a loyal donor to the university and wishes to remain anonymous. The donor’s estate gift will establish several Odyssey Scholarships in the future, helping to support the university’s long-term commitment to increasing financial aid for students.