Continuing a mother’s legacy

“My mother felt very strongly about education and she made a project of identifying students who wanted to come to the United States for further education." - Moses Goddard

“This is something I’ve always dreamed of,” exclaims Esperancia Preveau who will earn her bachelor of science in nursing degree at Rhode Island College in December. Esperancia, who was born in Haiti, credits her success, in part, to having been awarded the Robert H. I. Goddard and Hope Drury Goddard Scholarship. The scholarship, funded through an endowment established by the Goddard family at the Rhode Island Foundation, provides full tuition for first generation students seeking a baccalaureate degree in the Rhode Island College (RIC) School of Nursing.

“To get that much help really has made a difference in my life,” Esperancia says. It’s a difference the late Hope Goddard made in the lives of students by arranging for them to come to the United States for higher education, a practice now carried on by her son, Dr. Moses Goddard, through the scholarship at RIC.

Hope and Robert Goddard
Hope and Robert Goddard

“My mother felt very strongly about education and she made a project of identifying students who wanted to come to the United States for further education. She’d bring them here for college, including one individual who went to medical school at Brown,” Moses explains.

Hope’s efforts focused on students from the Caribbean, an area she was familiar with through visits there with her family. “My mother’s parents were artists, and my grandfather taught art at St. George’s School in Newport. They would go to the Caribbean in the summers, and mother inherited all the connections her parents made there,” Moses shares.

As his parents aged and needed in-home care, Moses explains that his mother met and befriended a home health aide from Central America who was going to Rhode Island College for nursing.

“My mother came to appreciate what the opportunity to move to the United States from disadvantaged countries could mean to young people. She looked at nursing as being a sophisticated degree with all the social implications of any medical degree.”

- Moses Goddard

The Goddard family’s affiliation with the Foundation goes back to its founding in 1916, as Moses’ paternal grandfather, R. H. Ives Goddard was one of eleven prominent Rhode Islanders who approached Rhode Island Hospital Trust Bank with the innovative idea of starting a community foundation for Rhode Island. The family’s affiliation with the Foundation has not wavered since. Robert H. I. Goddard served on the Foundation board of directors from 1961 to 1994, and his daughter, Margaret (Peggy) Goddard Leeson, served on the board from 1997 to 2006. This scholarship fund is one of several funds the family has established at the Foundation through the decades.

The Foundation is one of dozens of community organizations with which Robert and Hope were involved. The list is a virtual who’s who of Rhode Island nonprofit organizations. Of their commitment to the community, Moses states, “We all learned to give back early in our careers through their example.”

“I really hope this scholarship will make a significant difference to people, especially those who are trying to escape turmoil in their countries, and that it will leverage their families to whatever level they aspire,” Moses says.

Esperancia Preveau
Esperancia Preveau

If Esperancia’s experience is any indication, the scholarship definitely is making a significant difference. She completed high school in Haiti and came to the United States nine years ago, soon after an earthquake devastated the country. “Everything was very chaotic,” she recalls, adding, “I don’t think I’d be a nurse if I stayed there.”

She took time to become acclimated to the States (settling in Rhode Island where she has family), took ESL classes, and enrolled at Community College of Rhode Island before transferring to Rhode Island College. Now 27 and married, she is doing her clinical practicums on the oncology floor and in the intensive care unit at Rhode Island Hospital where she hopes to be employed following her graduation in December.

“My professional goal has always been to be a nurse and to make a difference in the lives of other people,” Esperancia concludes.

One has to think that Hope Goddard would be proud.