UC Clermont College, Colleges Around Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati
News

Scholarship Honors UC Clermont Alum Amidst Cancer Battle


Geology professor establishes scholarship fund in name of former student.

Date: 1/17/2018 12:00:00 AM
By: Amanda Chalifoux
Phone: (513) 558-8199
Photos By: Joseph Fuqua II

UC ingot   From day one, UC Clermont College geology Professor Mandy Hunt knew that student Tori Thomas was special. “It was immediately apparent that she was eager to establish a foundation of personal perspective that would enable her to better understand the role of humanity within the greater context of earth and time,” Hunt said. “She held leadership and mentorship within her class, often stimulating meaningful discussions that engaged everyone.”
UC graduate and Batavia resident Tori Thomas and her mom, Melissa Caldwell, enjoy a long-awaited moment at the University of Cincinnati following an arduous climb to finish her degree.
UC graduate and Batavia resident Tori Thomas and her mom, Melissa Caldwell, enjoy a long-awaited moment at the University of Cincinnati following an arduous climb to finish her degree.



Even after Thomas, a Batavia native, transferred from UC Clermont to UC’s Uptown Campus to finish her bachelor’s degree in geology, she remained closely connected to the place that had first sparked her passion for geology. “Tori kept in contact with new Clermont geology students,” Hunt said. “She brought her peers at Clifton to visit with our students in the lab and at rock shows, where we held demonstrations. She worked hard, and my hope would be for her to have a long brilliant career and life.”

But in 2015, Thomas was diagnosed with pericardial synovial sarcoma, an extremely rare type of cancer. After open-heart surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and periods of improvement, Thomas’s cancer returned for a third time in May 2017. Despite being in the final stages of the disease, 24-year-old Thomas graduated from UC with her bachelor’s degree in geology in December, and UC Magazine featured Thomas’s inspirational story.

It was then that Hunt felt moved to honor her former student. She established and sponsored the Tori Thomas Geology Scholarship in December at UC Clermont for an undergraduate student who wants to pursue a career in geology. Hunt’s gift will allow for a $1,000 scholarship for five years.

“I wanted to honor her in a way that would be meaningful to Tori, her family and friends who know her best. Tori’s fellow students held her in such high esteem and gained so much from their relationships with her,” Hunt said. “I thought that an enduring geology scholarship at UC Clermont would be appropriate for geology students well into the future who may not have been fortunate enough to have known Tori personally.”

Those interested in contributing toward the award can do so at https://foundation.uc.edu/give, designating their gift for the “Tori Thomas Geology Scholarship.”