Meet the Gruffie Scholars

Meet the Gruffie Scholars

“The Gruffie” Scholarship Fund was established through the generosity of The Brown Family Foundation and many friends, in honor of Gruffie Clough. Friends of Gruffie honored her long history with the school, as both a staff and board member, by creating this scholarship in her name and surprising her with it — and this video tribute — at the 2012 Black Tie & Tennis Shoes gala.

The Gruffie is used for scholarship assistance for women ages 16 – 25 to support them in their pursuit of character development and self-discovery. Read on to meet some of the Gruffie scholars and click here to learn more about the scholarship.

2016: Savi’s Rockies to Canyonlands Pathfinder Semester

“After this course, I feel more prepared for the hard conversations, more comfortable sitting with the thoughts in my head, and more excited to be alive.” Read the rest of Savi’s blog post here!


2015: Darylann’s Rockies to Ecuador Pathfinder Semester

“But more than those things, I learned how to carry people, how to be solid when others are struggling and how to let myself cry when that’s something you need. I learned how to be comfortable being exactly who I am in a group of twenty strangers.” Read the rest of Darylann’s blog post here!







2014: Kaila’s 22 Day Mountaineering Course

Kaila Ablao

Course: 22 Day Mountaineering 2014

Age: 16

What she’s up to now:

“I graduated high school this past June. I currently work as a PSW (personal support worker) or in home caregiver for a severely disabled twelve year old girl. I honesty never thought I would ever work in this field, I sort of fell into the job randomly, but it is working out pretty good and I am really enjoying it. I will be doing that over the summer here in Bend, Oregon. I am excited to share that this fall I will be participating in the High Mountain Institutes Semester Gap program. It is going to be a lot like Outward Bound – backpacking, climbing, conservation efforts, and studying environmental studies, in Utah, Colorado, and Patagonia. That will run from the end of September till December. I am not sure what I will be doing in next spring, but in the fall of 2017 I plan on starting college, probably at Boise State. The Gruffie scholarship and Colorado Outward Bound definitely made a huge impact on my life and I will continue to share my story with you.”

2013/2014: Sydney’s Rockies to Ecuador Leadership Semester

Name: Sydney Goodman

Age: 19

When Sydney’s 2013 Semester Course was unexpectedly cancelled she had already spent 8 days in Leadville and in the winter backcountry. She had been getting to know the other students and instructors, learning about basic wilderness travel, safety and camp craft. She had begun to experience the benefits of her very focused training as she hiked, skied and kicked steps in the snow. During the ice climbing section, she was the first one to step up to the ice! Even as her semester course was delayed until Fall, 2014 Sydney continued to demonstrate the determination and values that attracted us to her in the first place. She was flexible while staying focused. She was understanding of others yet still accountable for herself. And while disappointed at the time, she is once again training and preparing for this demanding course.


2012: Elisabeth’s 50-day Canyonlands Leadership SemesterElisabeth Tilstra

Name: Elisabeth Tilstra

Home: Leavenworth, Washington

Age: 24

• Graduate of University of Tennessee in Global Politics and Economy (and Spanish – two majors)
• Thesis Research in Argentina for 6 months, studying non-profits that work with children in marginalized communities
• Finished an AmeriCorps term in July 2013
• Spent the latter half of July and the month of August traveling in the Philippines and Vietnam.
• Elisabeth has a huge commitment to and history of service to her community. The past six years have seen her involved with a Fish Hatchery, Literacy Council, Ski Club, an Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and Jazz for Justice!
• Completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in March 2014
• She is excited to climb Mount Rainier this month with a group of 12!

Connection to the Outdoors:
Elisabeth shared this thought when she returned from her course:
I tell people that living in Utah for two months got me excited, again. And that’s true: in the months leading up to having the opportunity to wander in the wilderness for fifty days, I was making some pretty big Life Decisions… about which I felt just sort of “meh” – I was choosing post-AmeriCorps work, where to live, if I was going to return to school and what I might study. My time on course was a giant Pause button: I was able to step away from expectations, and extend to myself the grace and time to live simply and build relationships with my group members and leaders. I did some serious re-thinking of my values and goals, and found that when I came home, it was as if my engine had been revved. No longer was my future full of “Shoulds” and “Oughts”; rather, it was an endless string of Opportunities and Pinch Me This is Exciting!

Current work:
Shortly after her course Elisabeth started a grant writing business, and now works from home with non-profit clients in the area. She is continuing to build community and develop herself in the non-profit world, dreaming up ways to combine her interests in yoga, the outdoors, child and youth development, and working with marginalized communities.