Pauline Ikawa'77 honors her parents with a bequest to support their scholarship fund

Monday, January 13, 2020

UNH students have been a consistent part of Pauline Ikawa’s orbit for decades, beginning when she was a school-aged child milling about her father’s biochemistry lab in Spaulding Hall.

Now, she’s ensuring that she and her family will continue to be part of UNH students’ lives, too — for years to come.

Ikawa ’77 has a rather extensive UNH story arc — from hanging out with her dad, Miyoshi (below, left), at work and growing up in Durham to graduating from the university herself and becoming the current chair of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) Development Board. Her family has been similarly entrenched in the university culture (her brother, Warren ’82, is a fellow graduate).

When her mother, Norma, passed away in 1969, her father established a scholarship fund in her honor. When he passed away in 2006, his name was added to create the Miyoshi and Norma Ikawa Scholarship Fund. Pauline has since included the fund in her estate plan, meaning it will continue to benefit students for the foreseeable future.

“It’s so expensive to go to school these days, so any little bit you can do to help students going forward is important,” she says. “It’s nice that we can still be involved and we can carry on that tradition that my parents started of really being there for the students.”

Indeed, it wasn’t only Miyoshi who was there for students, though he was certainly the more high-profile fixture as a biochemistry professor. Ikawa has fond memories of her mother having students over to their Durham residence for dinners and other get-togethers, or befriending students who became her co-workers at The Red Carpet, the downtown gift shop she worked at for years.

Miyoshi Ikawa

Ikawa’s own path to becoming a UNH student was a bit circuitous — she attended the University of Colorado at Boulder for two years before taking a few years away from school to work at a bank — but she returned to complete her degree in botany in part because she preferred the intimate campus size where you “got to know the people, the professors and your fellow students more.”

Students remain an inspiration for Ikawa, who has enjoyed interacting with scholarship recipients and other students as a member of the COLSA Development Board — a position close to her heart because of the connection to her father’s work.

“I love it so much,” she says. “Any chance to meet the students is so nice — they are so smart, so imaginative, and the things they are working on are things you didn’t even think of back when I was going to school.”

That inspiration is part of the reason her focus remains on providing as many opportunities as possible for future generations of UNH students, who can carry on the tradition she’s been part of since the early days of her childhood.

“It feels good, to think about continuing what started with my mother and father,” Ikawa says. “It’s just focusing on what’s really important — it’s for the students and what it will mean to them. That’s the reason you do it.”