Alumni Challenge

DATE: Tuesday, November 13, 2018

'We could not possibly know what and how many emergencies our students will face each academic year, but we do know that we are more prepared to respond to these needs thanks to the Wendlandts' generosity.' – HCC vice president Amanda Sbriscia

Peg and Gary Wendlandt

Editor's Note: This story also appears in the Fall 2018 issue of Alumni Connection


For Margaret "Peg" (Laframboise) Wendlandt '58, attending Holyoke Community College proved to be a transformative experience.

Though she had enjoyed Cathedral High School in Springfield and her friendships there, she wasn't much involved in school activities. But HCC – then Holyoke Junior College – was different.  

On her way to an associate degree, she joined the student council, graduation committee, tea committee, and yearbook and newspaper staffs. She helped organize popular dances and waved pom-poms on the sidelines for sports teams as a cheerleader.  

That HCC experience continues to influence her life.   

She and her husband, Gary Wendlandt, a graduate of Washington University and a retired insurance executive, believe in the power of education. Since 2009, the Wendlandts have funded two endowed scholarships through the HCC Foundation: one for students with significant financial need and one for those in the nursing and health fields. Every year, scholarships in their name are awarded to 11 HCC students.  

They understand first hand what that kind of support can mean. In March 1958, during her sophomore year, Peg's father died, leaving her mother to support the family.  

"Without a scholarship, I would not have been able to attend college full time," she said. "I am very grateful that someone helped me and am glad that we are now in a position to help others."  

After HCC, Peg went on to the University of Massachusetts and, later, to Western New England School of Law. As the first HCC alumna to earn a law degree, Peg received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007 and the Distinguished Service Award at Commencement in 2014. 

"Education has made a great deal of difference in our lives and how we have succeeded over the years," said Peg, whose career included work as a family law attorney, a substitute teacher in the Holyoke Public Schools, and an actuarial analyst at Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company. "Gary and I both received scholarships to assist us in achieving our goals of education, and feel fortunate that we can help others do the same."  

The Wendlandts have also accounted for HCC in their estate plan.  

Most recently, the New York City residents donated $20,000 to the President's Student Emergency Fund, established in 2017 by HCC president Christina Royal to assist students experiencing financial emergencies or facing catastrophic events.  

"While many of us may have a support system or safety net to assist during challenging times, that may not be the case for some HCC students," said Amanda Sbriscia, HCC vice president of Institutional Advancement and executive director of the HCC Foundation. "And none of them should see their educational dreams derailed by circumstances beyond their control."  

Gifts like the Wendlandts' mean HCC officials can respond when the need arises, Sbriscia said.  

"We could not possibly know, with certainty, what and how many emergencies our students will face in each academic year," she said. "But we do know that we are more prepared to respond to these needs thanks to the Wendlandts' generosity."  

Not content with the initial donation to the fund, the couple recently issued an additional, dollar-for-dollar, matching challenge gift to the President's Student Emergency Fund of up to $20,000. (Details Below.)  

"We felt the emergency fund was an excellent way for us to help students in need," Peg said.  

After all these years, it's the little memories that often transport Peg back to HCC, like the time the cheerleaders had to make their own outfits.  

"At that time, since I did not know how to sew, cheerleader Pat Cousineau's mother made my outfit for me," she recalled. "She also assisted with others. That was the kind of community we were. That's why I want to give back."     

$20,000 Challenge  

Now through the end of 2018, Peg and Gary Wendlandt will match, dollar for dollar, every gift made to the President's Student Emergency Fund – up to $20,000. That's an additional $20,000 in emergency funding.    

How it works:  

You give $25 - the Wendlandts give $25.  

You give $100 - they give $100. 

Alumni and friends give a collective $20,000 between now and Dec. 31, 2018 - the Wendlandts will match it with another $20,000.  

Gifts of any size will be matched. 

To make your gift and see it matched, go to and choose President's Emergency Fund from the dropdown menu after "Designation." 

PHOTO: Peg '58 and Gary Wendlandt