For more than 15 years, Rebecca Harned ‘03 has pursued a career in disaster management. A biology major, she worked for FEMA before leaving government for the nonprofit sector. Harned is now director of the National Alliance for Public Safety GIS Foundation, tackling disaster management policy from a neutral, non-partisan platform.

Harned has long been committed to serving the greater good. “I feel like that’s why we’re ultimately here, “ she recently explained. “I believe that we can express our purpose through so many different avenues, and provide that service in so many different ways. If more people were able to really find their true purpose and carry that out, the world would be a very different place today.”

To that end, Harned has endowed a Colby-Sawyer scholarship, to be awarded annually to “a student with a commitment to serving as a humanitarian with motivation to build a better society and world.” She noted that career paths are often based on how lucrative they might be, rather than how personally fulfilling. Reflecting on her own student experience, which relied heavily on financial aid, Harned hopes to provide other students the freedom to dedicate themselves to a path of service, without money limiting their ability to pursue a purposeful career.

Harned described her endowed scholarship as an eternal gift. “It’s a true legacy, a gift that’s going to keep on giving,” she said, pleased to be able to make such a direct impact on students’ lives. As she considered the state of the world today, she struck a hopeful tone, expressing the optimism that has inspired her generous gift. “We can try to make change on a global basis, on a national basis,” she explained, “but it also starts on a very personal level. That’s how I’m looking at this scholarship.”

Rebecca Harned ‘03