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The Faces of Opportunity Vanderbilt
Photo of Lin Reish

Lin Reish

Class of 2020, Esserman Family Scholarship

Lin Reish was adopted from China when she was 22 months old, and she’s been on a lifelong journey of learning and discovery ever since. Between classes, special projects and volunteering, her days are full.

“I came here planning to major in political science and psychology, but I took a human and organizational development (HOD) course and fell in love with the way it’s application based,” Reish says. “All HOD students have an internship, and that lets me use my skills right away. I don’t just learn a theory and then save it for later.”

Separate from her class load—which is 18 hours—Lin is heavily involved in her Mayfield project. Mayfield is a living and learning community consisting of 20 houses with 10 students each. Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, each house chooses a year-long project and works on it together. Reish’s house has chosen “Between the Bars.”

“Vanderbilt is giving people the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”

“We’re focusing on telling the stories of recently incarcerated or recently re-integrated non-violent felony offenders,” she says. “Our end product will be a podcast.”

Having the time to participate in her Mayfield project and volunteer at Peabody’s Susan Gray School is only possible because of the support Reish receives from her Opportunity Vanderbilt-funded scholarships. Freed from the worry of accumulating student debt, she is able to follow her own interests and passions.

“Going to an elite university like Vanderbilt is something that everyone dreams of, but having the funds to do that is something most people don’t have, including me,” Reish says. “I got my financial aid award about two weeks after my acceptance, and my mom and I both cried—we didn’t think it was really possible.”

Having been the beneficiary of such generosity has engendered a desire to give back herself one day, and she has thoughts about why that generosity is so vital.

“Most of the really talented students here have proven themselves worthy of an education like this, and the only thing standing in their way is money,” she says. “Here in the U.S., we value education because it’s such an empowering tool that opens doors for many of us. In this way, Vanderbilt is giving people the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”