Brandi Durkac (Col ’00) grew up hearing her parents’ stories about the joys and adventures of college life—and about the importance of education and generosity.
“Giving is now a habit,” she said. And for Durkac, giving and family go together.
Durkac had often heard tales of a relative who was a renowned scholar of Spanish and Portuguese history—Charles Julian Bishko (1904-2002), an admired professor of history who taught at UVA for 39 years. She was intrigued, but to a young person who had never met the man, Bishko remained something of an imaginary figure.
That changed when Durkac’s family took a trip to Charlottesville during her teen years.
Although she only briefly met Bishko during that visit, theirs was a friendship that would grow through her years at UVA and continued afterwards.
One of Durkac’s favorite memories is having lunch with Bishko at the Virginian where he regaled her with stories of his time in academia.
Giving is now a habit
She remembers him as a “kind, very cheery and sprightly” man who touched many lives through his teaching and generosity, which included a donation of his papers to the UVA Library and support of an endowed professorship in history that bears his name. While Bishko was a positive influence on numerous students, he was deeply touched by Durkac’s friendship and proud of her accomplishments at the University.
Bishko’s expertise in medieval Spain and Portugal impressed Durkac. She was able to spend a semester abroad herself in Seville. “It changed my world view,” she said. “I had so many formative experiences there. Out-of-the-local-box experience is critical for students.”
She remained connected to Bishko after she moved from Charlottesville. Following his death, Durkac learned that he had remembered her in his will. To her surprise, the bequest was nearly the exact amount of her student debt.
The synchronicity was obvious—and it motivated Durkac to include UVA in her own will.
“I always wanted to give to AccessUVA,” said Durkac, who had benefited from AccessUVA support. Now a senior director in development at Georgetown University, she also gives annually to UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences.
Durkac’s connection to Professor Bishko is touching new lives, linking UVA students with the resources to pursue their own life-changing experiences.