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By creating a legacy of philanthropy, the Reynolds family is ensuring more opportunities for UD students to pursue undergraduate research.
By creating a legacy of philanthropy, the Reynolds family is ensuring more opportunities for UD students to pursue undergraduate research.

Delaware First: Giving is a family affair

Photo courtesy of BethAnne and David Reynolds

Blue Hen parents BethAnne and David Reynolds, and daughter Rachel, established the Mind, Brain and Behavior Summer Fellowship Fund

With the Reynolds, philanthropy is all in the family.

BethAnne and David Reynolds, parents of class of 2020 Honors College alumna Rachel Reynolds, share a vision to help future generations of University of Delaware students. Together, the three of them established the Mind, Brain and Behavior Summer Fellowship Fund in the Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences. The family celebrated the fund’s first award recipient this year and is hoping to inspire others to contribute.

The Reynolds created the fund to support self-designed undergraduate research opportunities, saying they believed in the importance of students practicing writing grant proposals and developing relationships with faculty early in their college careers. While at UD, Rachel’s involvement with the Summer Fellowship program was impactful. BethAnne and David encouraged their daughter to designate a giving area that is important to her, and she decided to ensure more Blue Hens could pursue hands-on lab experience.

“We wanted to teach our children the advantages of philanthropy and the scope it can entail,” BethAnne Reynolds said. “By doing it with them, they can see the effects of where it goes. It doesn’t just go in a bucket and then disappears. It’s personal.”  

By making giving a family tradition, the Reynolds demonstrate the importance of passing on a legacy of philanthropy and strengthening a bond over shared values. They said that it’s been a rewarding and effective way to make a positive impact together. The results are tangible, and they can follow their passion in this area by investing in important scientific discoveries. 

“I like seeing cutting-edge research. It fascinates me! I also love the personal contact with the recipients,” said BethAnne. “It’s great to hear their gratitude and excitement but it’s not about the accolades for us. We want to see what the scholars can achieve with what we provide them.”

Rachel added, “It’s enlightening to hear what new fresh ideas are being brought to the table and jump-starting different conversations in the scientific community. Plus, knowing you helped someone is very fulfilling. It sets them up for success and has a domino effect.”

Rachel’s experience as a UD Summer Fellow was similarly transformative. She worked with Paul Quinn, professor of psychological and brain sciences and a world-renowned researcher, in his infant cognition lab. Now, Rachel is looking to pay it forward for future generations of Blue Hens. 

“My UD research has given me great advantages, not only in grad school, but also in the skills that I gained,” Rachel said. “Working in several different labs opened doors, and those connections helped me discover how to communicate and collaborate.”

An Ohio native, Rachel enrolled at UD even before setting foot on campus. Notably, the University is one of the few schools in the nation that offers a cognitive science major. But it was in a first year Honors English course that Rachel began thinking about the topic she wanted to explore with Quinn. The small study that she designed for her research writing project eventually blossomed into her master’s thesis when she had the “time and the resources to do it for real.” 

Rachel is scheduled to graduate in November from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She credits her UD study abroad program experiences in London and Rome with expanding her horizons and contributing to her decision to study internationally. 

“I find it interesting to be able to ask a question and then use the scientific method to try and figure out answers,” Rachel said. “I think one of the amazing things about this fellowship is that it allows those students who want to follow their own research interests to go the extra mile. For me, it revealed a whole new world of ideas and creativity.” 

Through their generosity, the Reynolds are certainly leading the way, but they don’t want the spotlight. Perhaps this can be attributed to midwestern sensibilities: modesty, pragmatism and a genuine willingness to help others. By creating the fund under a general title, they said they believe others will be more compelled to give to it and extend its impact to provide additional research opportunities. 

“We have been fortunate enough to be able to kick start the fund. We set it up intentionally as a general fund, not a named fund,” BethAnne said. “This fellowship will continue in perpetuity. We want it to grow beyond us and help more students in the future, and every little bit counts.”

If you would like to join the Reynolds family in support of the Mind, Brain and Behavior Summer Fellowship Fund, you can visit this website.

To learn more about parent and family giving opportunities, please contact Tracy Smith at smitht@udel.edu or 302-831-7453.

About the Campaign

Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware was publicly launched on Nov. 10, 2017. The comprehensive engagement and fundraising campaign unites Blue Hens across the nation to accelerate UD’s mission of cultivating tomorrow’s leaders, creating solutions to grand challenges, inspiring innovations and transforming lives. The united effort will help create an extraordinary student experience at UD and extend its impact on the region and the world.

Building on the record-breaking support and generosity evidenced by the Campaign, on Oct. 7, 2021, the University announced the extension of Delaware First with a $1 billion goal to further fuel change and innovation for students, faculty, campus and the world.

For more information, call 302-831-2104 or email campaign-info@udel.edu.

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