VSB scholarship honors late alumna, 9/11 victim

Tara Powers

The Villanova School of Business is accepting applications for the Jeannine Damiani-Jones ’94 Endowed Memorial Scholarship. 

The scholarship honors Jeannine Damiani-Jones, a 1994 cum laude graduate. 

Damiani-Jones was a finance major at Villanova before being recruited to work at the New York City brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald. 

She was the only female broker in her area for several years before ascending to partner status after only four years with the firm.

Damiani-Jones was working in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, when she was killed in the terrorist attacks that occurred that day.

Her husband, Shawn Jones, VSB ’93, family and friends inaugurated the scholarship to pay tribute to Damiani-Jones’ memory and ensure that other female business students would benefit from and continue her legacy.

“Villanova is a place that was near and dear to Jeannine’s heart and is near and dear to my heart,” Jones said. “That’s where we met, and we had some of the best times of our lives there. The trustees of the Foundation wanted to do something to honor Jeannine and let her legacy live on in perpetuity.”

The $5,000 award honors a female junior or senior business student who demonstrates dedication, talent, determination and work ethic. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.3 and demonstrate financial need as established by the guidelines of the University’s financial aid office. 

In addition to these basic requirements, candidates must submit one letter of recommendation from a member of the VSB faculty as well as a one-page questionnaire. 

All who apply also attend an annual fundraising event in Damiani-Jones’ name, which in past years has been the Jeannine Damiani-Jones Memorial Golf Outing and Benefit Dinner.

Senior marketing and international business major Jaime Rigopoulos was the inaugural recipient of the scholarship in 2008. 

Her award was renewed last year, making her a two-time recipient.

“It stood out to me compared to other scholarship applications,” Rigopoulos said. “It wasn’t just ‘List your GPA and extra curriculars.’ It asked personal questions like the magazines you read and your favorite TV show — they were actually trying to get to know me as a person versus just me as a student.”

Jones emphasized that, rather than the intense questions asked by more typical applications, the Foundation wanted to ask more whimsical questions that they felt spoke about Damiani-Jones.

“We wanted to find qualified candidates that really embodied Jeannine’s fun-loving, bighearted spirit,” Jones said. “When Jaime came and met with us at the golf outing, she just truly had Jeannine’s zest for life.”

Rigopoulos also voiced the connection she felt to Damiani-Jones’ family upon meeting them at the fundraiser.

“When I went to the dinner, her family and friends were so welcoming, I was overwhelmed,” Rigopoulos said. “[Damiani-Jones’ cousin] said to me, ‘We read your application and you reminded us of her.’ That she could see her in me was an amazing thing to be told.”

According to Jones, the Jeannine Damiani-Jones Memorial Foundation has raised approximately $400,000 over the course of seven years, a large percentage of which has come from Villanova alumni. 

In addition to the VSB endowed scholarship, a fully endowed scholarship was started at Damiani-Jones’ high school in 2002. 

The Foundation has also made substantial donations to other charities, such as Camp Better Days, a camp for children who lost a parent or loved one in the 9/11 attacks.

“In building this community of scholars, our goal is for people not to forget what happened, to remember that at the end of the day some really positive and amazing things are being done as a result of this tragedy,” Jones said. “I always say to people that Jeannine did more and accomplished more in 28 years of living than most people do in 80 years.”

Students who meet the eligibility requirements will be contacted by the Clay Center at VSB. Submissions are due by April 16.