A Scholarship for Memory
From France-Amerique
January 25, 2004

By Catya Martin

Richard Duqué, France's consul general in New York has opened the consulate's doors to Dening Lohez, founder of the "Jérôme Lohez Memorial Fund at Stevens Institute of Technology," an association dedicated to the memory of the French victims of the Sept.11, 2001 attacks.

Dening's husband, Jérôme Lohez, was one of these victims. He worked on the 26th floor of tower one of the World Trade Center and lost his life at the age of 30.

Jérôme and Dening met at Stevens Institute of Technology, a university in Hoboken known for its masters program in management. Educated at the ÉPITA School for Engineers in France, Jérôme completed his studies at Stevens. ÉPITA has had exchanges with Stevens for over ten years to allow students to benefit from the best elements of the French school and to receive a double diploma -- French and American.

To honor the memory of her young husband, Dening decided, one month after Jérôme's death, to create an annual scholarship in his name. Designed to aid students of ÉPITA, the scholarship will be awarded based on criteria such as scholarly merit, and on the American ideals of cultural and religious tolerance and the spirit of enterprise, equality and generosity. Once the selection is made, laureates will receive a scholarship of $2,000 for studying their courses, under the best conditions.

Even if the sum is modest, it enormously helps young students, who often have very limited resources. "Jérôme and I wanted to start a family, have children ….We had even chosen names. Today I know that all that will not be possible and that this foundation represents in a small way, what we will never have," explained Dening, her voice full of emotion.
She has already contacted a large number of French enterprises in the United States to determine how they might help with this project. The response has been very cordial, with those responsible moved and touched by Dening's story. But she had not succeeded in raising the funds. So it is with her own personal money and her own insurance that she has begun this adventure.

"The youths that I aid are the best engineers that one could find. For businesses, it is a true treasure. I don't understand how this could not interest them, but I don't despair," she declared. She is still waiting for a response from France Télécom and has high hopes.

"The most complicated thing is to choose the right person, to succeed in interesting someone other than just those with an emotional attachment to September 11," she said. "I really believe in this association and I thank all my friends and close relations who have supported me during this initiative. Without them, I would never have been able to help anyone. I receive messages of support and thanks from the families of the students that we have helped and some of them continue their work here in the United States, like Jérôme. I am very proud of this."

Facing this young determined woman, the consul general immediately said yes to letting her make her first real presentation to the consulate. Richard Duqué made the reception an homage to the French victims of September 11, and in front of several families of the victims, he dedicated a plaque to the memory of the five Frenchmen missing after the attacks. The plaque now hangs in the welcome hall of the consulate to perpetuate the memory of those victims.

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Translated from Chinese by Charlotte Triggs

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