Where will you be in 100 years?

Leonilda Gervasi graduated from Pembroke College in Brown University in 1921, and her legacy continues today on College Hill. Born near Naples, Italy, she was the first woman in her family to attend college. After graduation, she devoted her career to public libraries. She began at the New York Public Library—where she worked to help immigrants apply for citizenship—and later moved to the Marfa Public Library in west Texas. 

Leonilda never forgot her time on College Hill and established a scholarship through her will. Now, 100 years later, the Leonilda Gervasi Scholarship has been awarded more than 50 times to 32 students. These numbers continue to grow.

One alumna who benefited from Leonilda’s generosity recently reflected on its impact. "It’s not about what you can achieve as an individual. It’s about the legacy you leave behind,” shared Ileana Pirozzi ’18, now a PhD candidate in medical engineering at Stanford. 

Leonilda’s generosity has not only helped support and launch dozens of Brown alumnae but has also served as a model for helping others. Christina Mata ’16 MD’22, who will finish her last year at the Warren Alpert Medical School, intends to pay it forward in her own way: “We all stand on somebody’s shoulders. In my career at Brown, I stood on Leonilda Gervasi’s shoulders. I now want to be the shoulders that somebody else stands on.” 

What will you be doing 100 years after graduating from Brown?