After donating to the Annual Fund Scholars Program for years, Wendy Suhm Kvalheim ’77, along with her husband Grant, decided in 2010 to establish an endowed scholarship fund. Back in 1974, she had been the recipient of a scholarship that allowed her to enroll at Mount Holyoke as a sophomore.
“Without it, I would not have had the opportunity for such a fine education,” said Kvalheim, president and owner of Mottahedeh & Company (www.mottahedeh.com), which specializes in reproductions of porcelain, brass, silver, and crystal.
This gift, said Kvalheim, reflects her belief that Mount Holyoke “takes away the excuses away that women make for themselves in not achieving. What limits us is our expectations. Mount Holyoke helps change that.”
When she took the helm of Mottahedah in 1993, Kvalheim’s oldest child was eight and her youngest was two. “I had no idea how difficult running the business would be and, in fact, I’d never worked in business. But Mount Holyoke had given me the confidence and background to think I could do it.” In addition to her executive duties, Kvalheim, who also has a B.F.A. from the Pratt Institute of Art, is Mottahedeh’s design director.
She works alongside her oldest daughter, Dana, a product developer and a 2007 MHC graduate. Another daughter, Lauren, graduated from Smith College and currently is earning an M.F.A. in character animation for film at the Academy of Art University. Kvalheim’s son, Miles, is studying financial economics at Claremont McKenna College.
For Kvalheim, endowing a scholarship is a way both to give back to Mount Holyoke and advance its distinctive mission. “The College is extremely supportive of the individual and has a more humanitarian philosophy than many schools. It recognizes potential, no matter what a person’s means,” said Kvalheim. “Mount Holyoke raises and elevates the status of women. That, I believe, benefits all societies and is our best hope for unifying the world.”