Women of Scripps: Gabrielle Giffords

By Taylor Healy ’15, Features Section Head

In the final chapter of Gabby: A Story of Courage and Hope, Gabrielle Giffords (’93) writes that she plans to return to the United States Congress. Giffords makes this written vow in a book that, released Nov. 15, is coming out a mere 10 months after an assassination attempt put her in the hospital, struggling to survive.

To celebrate the release of this book, Scripps hosted a reception in front of Malott Commons in Holden Court. The book, co-authored by Gabrielle Giffords (’93) and her husband Mark Kelly, describes Giffords’ journey to recovery.

Speaking at Tuesday’s reception, Scripps President Lori Bettison-Varga called Giffords a national role model, citing Giffords’ “grace and determination” as well as pride for her alma mater. President Bettison-Varga also read a letter addressed to the Scripps community from Giffords’ husband, in which he thanked the college for gathering to recognize his wife.

Following President Bettison-Varga’s address, multiple Scripps alumnae spoke on Giffords’ dedication to the Scripps community, including the powerful impact Giffords had as the 2009 commencement speaker. In recounting personal memories of Giffords, Janel Henriksen Hastings (’91) described her as “a Scripps woman personified.” Hastings went on to speak about the message Giffords and her “story of courage and hope” has sent to Scripps students: to “never settle, never take the easy way out and never, ever compromise your beliefs.”

Students, alumnae, faculty and staff all had a chance to write personal messages to Giffords as they enjoyed refreshments and the entertainment of a mariachi band. The festivities also included a raffle, with five raffle winners each receiving a complimentary copy of Giffords’ book.

Tuesday’s celebration allowed the Scripps community to share the pride they take in the success and strength demonstrated by the esteemed alumna.

As Kelly’s letter said, “Like many of you, Gabby attributes her keen sense of curiosity and her ability to lead to those formative years at Scripps College… Gabby has always been a focused and determined individual… She continues to slog through a rigorous schedule of speech, physical and occupational therapy. She is committed to getting better so that she can return to the job she loves to do: representing the American people in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

In addition to fulfilling President Bettison-Varga’s vow to “celebrate where [Giffords] is and where she’s going,” Tuesday’s reception was a reminder of the very real manifestations of the oft-cited confidence, courage and hope which Scripps instills in its students.