Giving

Changing Lives: Elena Prien

The Greatest Gift: A Life Well-Lived

When she turned 80, Elena Prien, BIS ’82, decided the best present would be to give something away. So she gave Mason $150,000.

The gift created the Elena Scholarships Endowment, which will award $1,000 annually to six students studying with the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. “When I made the decision to start a scholarship, I went looking for a program that provided all the lessons I had learned about living a meaningful life and found it at the center,” Prien says.

For her, it was the culmination of a long road to personal well-being. Searching for meaning after her 22-year-old son took his own life, Prien discovered the benefits of mindfulness to understand and come to terms with her emotions and reach a more peaceful state of mind. With her own life stabilized, she earned her degree at Mason and went on to work as a nurse in a long-term care facility.

Now, through her generous gift to Mason, Prien hopes to see generations of students follow in her footsteps: learning how to best take care of themselves, then paying it forward in a groundswell of well-being.

Reprinted from Spirit magazine, Winter 2016