When disaster and tragedy strike, it can be difficult to find a way to stay hopeful. But when a family loses someone whose light shines extra brightly, there are ways to keep that light shining for years to come.
Diane Rencevicz was a radio, television and film major at Temple University from September 1985 through December 1988. While she was traveling home from studying abroad in London on December 21, 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland after a bomb was detonated. Diane was one of 259 passengers and crew killed in the terrorist attack along with 11 individuals on the ground.
In her memory, the Rencevicz family established a scholarship that would enable other students to travel to London and experience a place that meant so much to their beloved sister, Diane.
Diane Rencevicz was one of four daughters to Leonard and Agnes Rencevicz. She was a twin to her sister, Denise Rencevicz.
"The first time that I called Diane in London she was so excited," Denise wrote in an email, recalling her sister's experience abroad. "Her housemate answered the phone, and when I told the housemate who I was, I heard Diane screaming excitedly in the background."
Denise continued, "Diane was nervous about how she would pay for added expenses while living in London. I was a waitress in Philadelphia and would put a percentage of my tips each night into Diane's 'London Fund'. When she left for London at the end of August, I gave her what I had saved so that she would have extra spending money."
This, paired with Diane's enthusiasm for London and her opportunity to go there, was a large part of what inspired the Rencevicz family to found this scholarship in her honor. In fact, Denise mentioned that Diane was so excited to be accepted into the London program that she put the acceptance letter on her refrigerator door.
Director for Global Opportunities at Klein College of Media and Communication Allie Miller echoed the importance of supporting students' study abroad experiences, particularly Klein's long-standing offerings in London.
"We want study abroad to be as accessible to students as possible, however financial cost concern is the number one reason why a student does not study abroad," Miller wrote. "Global Opportunities tries to remove these barriers as much as possible, and being able to provide scholarships like the Diane Rencevicz Memorial Scholarship makes a huge impact on a student's ability to study abroad."
Karen Malchione, Diane and Denise's sister, remembers Diane as being quiet and serious at times, but energetic and passionate about the things she truly loved, especially her interest in pursuing a career in the music industry.
"Funding this annual scholarship is bittersweet; it's been 33 years since we lost our sweet and talented sister at age 21 when she had so much life to live, but knowing that she spent her last months experiencing all that London had to offer gives me a sense of peace," Malchione wrote in an email. "I hope that the Klein students fully experience London, make the memories of a lifetime, and seek out future opportunities to travel to new countries and experience different cultures."
Both sisters hope the scholarship continues to create opportunities to expand students' studies, allowing them to and meet students from diverse backgrounds. Plus, Malchione added, organizing the scholarship has brought the Rencevicz family closer together, providing them with opportunities to reminisce about the past while keeping Diane's memory alive in the London program and its current students.
"Studying abroad changes a student's life for the better, full stop. I've never had a student say to me, 'I wish I didn't study abroad, that was terrible,'" Miller wrote. "Even the challenges they might face abroad become a part of their story towards growing as a person and being a better global citizen. Thank you to the Rencevicz family for supporting our Klein in London programs and helping so many Temple students live out their goal of studying abroad."