Left handed Scholarship
Juniata's left-handed scholarship, worth $1,000 to $1,500 a year to
studious southpaws, was established by the late Mary Francis Beckley, a
former Juniata student, with a bequest of $24,000. More than 40
left-leaning Juniata students have taken advantage of the scholarship
since its inception in 1979.
The scholarship is reserved for sophomores, juniors or seniors attending
Juniata College. The stipend cannot be applied to other institutions.
According to Randy Rennell, Juniata's director of student financial
planning, lefties are identified by answering the final question on
Juniata's individual data form. The scholarship recipients are chosen
from left-handers that have top academic records. Rennell says the
college does not ask the students to prove they are left-handed. "We
don't even check closely when they are signing the forms," he says.
"It makes you feel good because you're getting a scholarship that helps
pay for your education, and also gives you encouragement about being
left-handed," says Holly Bonker, a Juniata senior from Bloomsburg, Pa.
studying biological sciences. Bonker, a Juniata field hockey player who
uses her left-hand in everything but cutting with scissors, believes
being left-handed is an advantage. "In field hockey, the left hand
guides the stick, so I think I have an advantage because my left hand is
stronger. Still, I would like to see more left-handed desks at the
Bonker is one of five Juniata students to receive the scholarship for
the 2000-2001 academic year.
The story behind Juniata's lefty scholarship is at its center a love
story. In 1919, Mary Francis, a student taking a tennis class, was
paired with Frederick Beckley, another students. The tennis coaches,
apparently unable to envision a tennis future that would feature such
lefty champions as Rod Laver, John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova,
paired the two lefthanders. The Beckleys were married in 1924.
Roughly 10 percent of the United States population is left-handed,
making the country's only left-handed scholarship quite competitive for
Juniata students who are interested. The unique financial aid package
has been touted in such media outlets as the New York Times, The Wall
Street Journal, USA Today, the "Today Show" on NBC-TV and the
"I didn't get the scholarship because I didn't know about it until my
junior year," says David Lehman, assistant professor of geology at
Juniata and a 1983 Juniata graduate. "I haven't found being left-handed
to be a problem as a geologist, although I did have to buy my son a
left-handed baseball glove through the Internet because they didn't have
The onus on left-handedness well predates Juniata's scholarship program.
Lefty discrimination dates back to the origins of language. The Latin
word for left, sinistra, also shares a common root with the English word
sinister. The French word for left, gauche, also means awkward. Other
left-phobic words or phrases -- such as "left-handed compliment" -- have
been a part of the American vernacular for decades.
Left-handedness has long been prized in athletics. Lefty baseball
players are particularly celebrated, including Babe Ruth, Sandy Koufax,
Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson, Randy Johnson and Barry Bonds. Other
left-handed athletes include NBA star Bill Russell, golfer Phil
Mickelson and recently retired NFL quarterback Steve Young.
Lefties in other fields of endeavor include "Muppets" creator Jim
Henson, guitarist Jimi Hendrix, musician Sir Paul McCartney,
entertainers Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Bruce Willis, scientist Albert
Einstein, politicians Al Gore and Colin Powell, and Presidents George H.
Bush, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford.
Juniata also has more than one unique student opportunity. In 1957 the
late Will Judy, publisher of Dog World magazine, asked that a room in
Lesher Hall, one of Juniata's residence halls, be reserved for
red-headed students, in honor of his "titian-tressed" wife. A plaque in
the room commemorates the request, but current residents don't have to
be redheads to live in the room.
The Beckley scholarship is open to any student who demonstrates
financial need as well as academic success. The only stipulation for the
scholarship is that the student is left-handed.
Contact: John Wall office: (814) 641-3132