When we were younger, my older sister Tamar regularly read my diary. I know this because she wrote about it in her own diary, which I read regularly. I knew she was reading my diary and she knew I was reading hers, but there was nothing we could do about it because in order to tell on the other, we’d have to admit we’d been doing the same thing. Back then I probably knew pretty much everything there was to know about her.
As Tamar got older, I knew less and less about her, in no small part because she got better at hiding her diary. We were still very close, but I didn’t know every single thing about her. By the time she left for college at CMC, there were large swaths of her life I knew nothing about.
By the time of her death during her junior year, she sometimes felt like a stranger. She had been away at college for two and a half years, and hadn’t lived at home during her summer breaks. In the months leading up to her death in January 2013, she had been abroad in Ecuador. Her internet access there had been somewhat limited, especially while she was travelling. Our emails had grown less and less frequent. She had just finished her semester and was backpacking around South America with friends. On January 2nd, just a few days before she was scheduled to come home, she was in a bus crash. Five days later, she died of her injuries.
After she died, many people at CMC and the 5Cs reached out to my family. We received hundreds of condolence cards which I read and reread obsessively and arranged on my bookshelf. Through those cards I learned about the Tamar I never knew. I loved the sheer number of them, something near five hundred. They signaled to me that other people had known Tamar, knew she was gone, felt the way I was feeling. She had mattered. What I learned from the cards was that I barely knew my sister at all. She had so many friends I didn’t know about, and was involved in what seemed like dozens of organizations I hadn’t heard of. Together, the cards painted a picture of the version of my sister I didn’t get the chance to know.
There is one thing I absolutely know and have always known about my sister’s time at college. She loved CMC. She loved her classes, her professors, her friends, her major, the campus, the social life. Her sophomore year, I visited her at the very beginning of second semester. We flew to California together when her break ended. When she arrived on campus, I was blown away by how incredibly happy she was. I had never seen her so excited. For Tamar, CMC really was the happiest college in America. She was home.
In honor of Tamar’s memory and her love for CMC, my family has started a scholarship that will provide one student in financial need support for their CMC education. Most of the money for the scholarship has come from donations from those in the CMC community. The more money we raise, the larger the award will be for the student that receives the scholarship. Tamar would have graduated this May, and we’re hoping that graduating seniors will consider giving to the scholarship fund for their part in the senior class gift.
I work at the Office of Annual Giving, and part of my job involves calling alums and asking them to give to the school. Many have reasons they don’t want to donate. Some feel the school is leaning too far in one political direction, or they don’t approve of certain policies. These are valid concerns and I understand why people might not want to donate to CMC. But to seniors who might not be planning to give to the senior class gift for these reasons, I ask you to reconsider. Donating to the Tamar Hanna Kaplan ‘14 Memorial Scholarship isn’t about endorsing CMC’s politics or policies. It’s about honoring a classmate who would have walked with you when you receive your diploma in May. It’s about giving someone who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it the chance to have the same CMC experience my sister loved so much. Tamar loved CMC, and I hope you’ll help give someone else the same opportunity she had.
To donate to the Tamar Hanna Kaplan ‘14 Memorial Scholarship, please visit www.cmc.edu/giving/seniors, even if you’re not a senior. When making your gift, please write “For Tamar’s Scholarship” in the comments.
If you have any questions about supporting the scholarship, please contact Haley Patoski ’14 available at [email protected] or at (508) 527-5143, or Andrew Brewer, the Director of Annual Giving, at [email protected] or (909) 607-3531.