Bonded By Chemistry
Story by Jenna Marina, UCF Alumni
Fate, and a dash of chemistry, brought together two-time UCF alumna Cynthia McCurry and current College of Sciences student Lauren Gandy.
McCurry has supported a scholarship for the College of Sciences since 2001. Students of various science majors have received the scholarship over the years, but until this fall, it had been awarded just once to a chemistry major.
So McCurry’s day was made when she found out Gandy, this year’s George and Geraldine McCurry Endowed Scholarship recipient, shared her interest in chemistry.
“I’m just so glad that there are students coming out of the school who are making a difference,” McCurry said. “I’m especially pleased that we are turning out sciences majors who are women.”
McCurry graduated in 1980 with her bachelor’s degree in chemistry before earning her master’s in industrial chemistry two years later.
Gandy is a double major in forensic biochemistry and French. She is also pursuing two minors in chemistry and biomedical sciences. She decided to attend UCF because of its forensic science program and plans on furthering her education in a biochemical doctoral program.
One day, she would like to work within a chemical preparedness center to support safety from chemical attacks for the Department of Defense and the military.
The two talked about this and more during their first meeting in an event organized by the College of Sciences that paired donors with their recipients.
“I was fortunate to receive a scholarship last year as well but I didn’t get a chance to meet the donor. I think this year has been changed in so many ways because I’ve been able to meet her and see that chemists are supporting chemists. Engineers are supporting engineers. Just continuing that legacy,” Gandy said. “It’s so wonderful knowing there are people out there who I can look up to and who are supporting students like me.”
McCurry and her siblings set up the George and Geraldine McCurry Endowed Scholarship in honor of their parents, who she said always pushed their children to invest their time in education. All three of the McCurry children received degrees from UCF.
“We never thought of not going to school,” McCurry said. “We wanted to do the scholarship in their name. They were so happy that UCF was built here in Orlando and that we were able to attend. I try to support the school the best that I can.”
It took McCurry and Gandy less than two hours and one shared meal to form an emotional connection. As they neared the end of their conversation, they both started to tear up.
“I’m just so honored that I was able to help you in some small way,” McCurry told Gandy.
Gandy paused for a moment and replied, heartfelt: “Words can’t really express it.”