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Boise State student receives first Women in STEM, Medicine and Law scholarship

Ally Orr started the scholarship in response to a Boise State political science professor's comments about "medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome" women in careers.

BOISE, Idaho — It's quite a thing to go from bothered to benefactor in just four months, but that's exactly what Ally Orr has done.

Orr, a senior marketing student at Boise State University, on Wednesday awarded the first of what will likely be many scholarships that bear her name. The first-ever Ally Orr Women in STEM, Medicine and Law Scholarship goes to Jessica Lambert, a Timberline High School graduate who's now a third-year mechanical engineering major at Boise State.

The monetary award totals $2,430. That's enough to get Lambert through another semester of school, but Lambert said the message that comes with the Ally Orr scholarship means more than the money.

"To me, this is like the university, Ally, people around the community being like, 'you are worth investing in, women are worth investing in, and we believe in you.' And this is so different from other scholarships because of how much Ally had to do to make it live, and the fact that it's endowed," Lambert said.

The story of the Ally Orr Scholarship begins in December 2021, after Orr heard what Scott Yenor, a Boise State political science professor, said a few weeks earlier at the National Conservatism Conference. Yenor said, among other things, "our independent women seek their purpose in life in midlevel bureaucratic jobs like human resource management, environmental protection, and marketing. They're more medicated, meddlesome, and quarrelsome than women need to be." He also suggested that women seeking to study engineering, medicine and law at the nation's universities ought not take spots away from men.

Portions of Yenor's remarks went viral on social media. Orr was bothered by what she had heard. Then she went from bothered to bitter to getting busy. Orr started a crowdfunding account for a scholarship and spent the night of Dec. 2, 2021, sending batches of emails to members of Boise State's faculty and staff.

"This was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. The pushback I received... has been the hardest thing, and to stay with it, too, has been so hard," said Orr, who is holding down a job in addition to her studies at Boise State.

That "pushback" Orr mentioned hasn't gone away. A complaint about the scholarship, brought by a man, accuses Boise State of violating Title IX of federal education law by offering a scholarship specifically for women. The outcome of the complaint and related investigation remains an open question. Meanwhile, the scholarship is still going, and growing.

Twelve hours after Orr established the account, it had more than $10,000. Three days later, it grew to $25,000. As of Wednesday, April 27, the fund is at more than $200,000. Wait, there's more: Orr on Wednesday announced that an anonymous donor is going to add another $250,000.

Orr's account will close May 7.

After the scholarship award to Jessica Lambert, the rest of the money -- and future contributions -- will remain as an endowment, meaning it will go on forever, to fund 4-percent scholarships for a student or students.

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