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A Swimming Success
September 29, 2009
Philanthropy is a family affair for Denise Dombay, BA'88, husband Alan Noznesky, and their two kids, Eliana, 10, and Jacob, 7. As a team, they recently established the Noznesky Family Fit Women in Finance Annual Scholarship, which will benefit female swimmers studying business.
"I attended GW on both a swimming scholarship and a merit scholarship," says Ms. Dombay, who majored in accounting and was a member of the women's swim team for four years. "GW gave me a great education, a great experience, great friends, and a great community, and I'm finally in a position where I feel like I can give something back."
Now senior vice president and chief audit executive of Marriott International in Bethesda, Md., Ms. Dombay says the seed for the scholarship was planted when her son joined the neighborhood swim team last summer. "I spent a lot of time at Jake's swim meets, which got me to thinking about the many wonderful things I had received from the sport," says Ms. Dombay, who still swims competitively. "Between my son's passion for swimming and my daughter's very caring and generous spirit, we thought it would be an excellent idea to create a family scholarship fund."
The family sat down together to work out the specifics of the scholarship—and to name it. "By getting the kids involved in the process, we not only taught them about the importance of giving back but also about the importance of a college education," says Ms. Dombay, whose husband is a captain in the D.C. Fire Department. "Alan and I are both strong believers that a good education can really make a difference in someone's life. He was extremely supportive of the scholarship because he sees the impact that swimming has had on me and the leadership skills it instilled in me."
Ms. Dombay, who worked as a public accountant for Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young before joining Marriott last year, says she hopes the scholarship recipients enjoy the "same high-quality education and camaraderie" that she did as a GW student.
"Swimming provided stability and friendships and support for me at GW," says Ms. Dombay, who remains in close touch with many of her teammates. "The coaches were very dedicated and always there for us, and having an automatic group of friends made the adjustment to college life so much easier. Within half an hour of arriving at my dorm as a freshman, upperclassman swimmers were knocking on my door welcoming me and inviting me out with them. It helped me to adjust socially and excel academically, since the swim team was such a high-achieving group."
She also praises GW's accounting department. "The program not only prepared me academically, but also professionally for my career," she says. "The department was small but very dedicated to providing a quality education. Looking back, my college years were great years, and I wouldn't change a thing. I hope that our family scholarship helps future recipients achieve the same success."