The philanthropic legacy providing access to university for young people in Osona

  • 12 students from the UVic-UCC are the first beneficiaries of the scholarship
  • Maria Victoria Modolell “was altruistic and loved culture,” explains the executor of the legacy
  • The Modolell-Calderó fund will allocate the return from more than 4 million Euros to grants for means-tested scholarships

How many times have you heard that luck doesn't fall out of the sky and that you have to go out and look for it? Some people say that nobody is more fortunate than someone who makes their own luck, but good fortune that comes from elsewhere, like an unexpected gift, fills you with surprise and joy. And if it is not even a question of chance, but instead an altruistic gesture, the gratitude is infinite. In early May 2018, the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) received a telephone call from a notary, who told us that we had received a substantial legacy from Maria Victoria Modolell. The legacy, amounting to 8.3 million Euros, was divided equally between Caritas and the UVic-UCC, and it is the first donation of this type that the University has received.

Under the terms of the will, the University must provide scholarships for disadvantaged students from the Osona region who wish to study at the UVic-UCC. As a result, the University's governing bodies decided to award 12 young people each year with scholarships covering their entire time at university, paid for from the return from the legacy rather than the value of the asset itself. This means that the asset will retain its value, and the returns from it will continue to fund scholarships for many years to come. With her legacy, Mrs Modolell highlighted her interest in university studies for young people from the Osona region, and her concern to help those in most need.

"When luck comes in, offer it a seat!" says the Catalan proverb. And that is literally what the UVic-UCC has done by creating the Modolell-Calderó scholarship. In the University's classrooms and facilities, each year a dozen students will benefit from a significant financial grant to bring them closer to the professional future they have chosen for themselves. Twelve have already had this good fortune this academic year.

Who was Maria Victoria Modolell?

Maria Victoria Modolell was a person who was interested in the general well-being rather than individual recognition for herself. Not even her family knew about her intentions, but they were not surprised by them either. "Maria Victoria was a discreet and unaffected woman, who was concerned about disadvantaged people having access to culture," explains Ramon Vilarrúbia, the cousin of Mrs Modolell's husband, and the executor of her legacy. "Her altruism, her love of culture and her regard for Vic have brought this legacy to Osona," he says.

"Her altruism, her love of culture and her regard for Vic have brought this legacy to Osona"

Maria Victoria Modolell was the daughter of a wealthy Barcelona family, although she was born in Santiago de Compostela on 21 June 1937. Her parents were forced to leave Catalonia at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, and they lived in Galicia until the war ended. Modolell liked to travel a great deal, especially with her family, and she worked for Barcelona City Council until she began to have problems with her sight and health, which were aggravated by the onset of Alzheimer's disease in her final years. In 1985, she married Carlos Calderó, who was from Vic, when they were both around 50 years old. Calderó died on 23 April 2017 and his wife died a few months later, on 4 October. "She never really got over the loss of her husband," explains Vilarrúbia.

The executor remembers that "the couple often said that they had to think about those who wanted to study and to help those who were disadvantaged, either in terms of their studies or in any other situation." The couple had no children, and offered help to people whenever they could. Indeed, Vilarrúbia explains that after Maria Victoria Modolell's death, they received many telephone calls that highlight their generosity. "For example, a lady who had been in domestic service years before called us, and told us that the Calderó-Modolell family had paid her tuition fees for studies that she couldn't afford. Her altruistic streak dated back a long way."

"The couple often said that they had to think about those who wanted to study and to help those who were disadvantaged"

A donation as generous as this one would be welcome at any institution, but Mrs Modolell decided on the UVic-UCC and Caritas. She did not specify her reasons, because according to her relatives, she was not someone who enjoyed giving too many explanations. Nevertheless, Joan Vilarrúbia, the executor's son, points out that "the UVic-UCC is not cheap, and Victoria undoubtedly must have given a great deal of thought to people living near Vic not having to travel to Barcelona and being able to study here." Meanwhile, Ramon Vilarrúbia is convinced that Carlos Calderó, "who loved Vic very much," influenced his wife's decision to leave the legacy in the capital of the Osona region.

The first beneficiaries of the Modolell-Calderó scholarship

Ariadna Farrés (born in Torelló, 1999), Daniel Garrido (born in Manlleu, 1997) and Ibrahim Amar (born in Tona, 2000) are three of the twelve students who received the Modolell-Calderó scholarship this academic year. They are studying Nursing, Automotive Engineering and Mechatronics respectively, and they are grateful for this particular assistance that will help them during their time at the UVic-UCC. "Donations like this one are very valuable. Investing in education is the best thing that you can do because it benefits society as a whole," says Ibrahim.

"Donations like this one are very valuable. Investing in education is the best thing that you can do because it benefits society as a whole"

Ariadna

Ariadna

Ariadna highlights her altruistic role as a volunteer at the Virgen de Lourdes Hospital. "I was working as a volunteer with the sick and I decided to study nursing." The Torelló-born student is happy that she can study near her home. "If I want to work in the afternoon, it is easier for me here than in Barcelona." Furthermore, one of her objectives is "to work in the Hospital de Vic or in a mental health centre", as Psychology is one of the subjects that have been a pleasant surprise to her.

Daniel

Daniel

Daniel has been a car and motorcycle enthusiast since he was very young, so he had no doubt about which field he was going to study in. "I had just done a senior cycle in automotion, and then I worked as a mechanic until I saw this new degree course." Manlleu-born Daniel would like to tell the Modolell family that "it is lucky that there are such generous people in the world, and I will certainly take great care of the scholarship that I have received." Daniel acknowledges that it is a great help for his family, because his sister is also studying.

"It is lucky that there are such generous people in the world, and I will certainly take great care of the scholarship that I have received"

Ibrahim

Ibrahim

Ibrahim was unsure whether to study Telecommunications or Mechatronics. "In the end I decided to do Mechatronics because the career opportunities it offers are very broad." The Tona-born student describes receiving the scholarship as essential: "I'm one of three siblings, and the scholarship has given me a good opportunity to continue studying." That is why he considers the scholarship to be a responsibility: "I'm working very hard and so far I've passed everything." Ibrahim explains that his father graduated in Physics in Morocco, and although he has not been able to work in the field professionally, "he has always instilled in us the idea of studying and choosing what we want to do."