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Carrying Hope

Dayna Buri Scholarship Recipient Honors Memory of Former U of I Student

Yvette Bonney ’23 never met former University of Idaho student Dayna Buri. But as Bonney traveled across Europe after spending the Fall 2023 semester studying in Pau, France, it’s not hard to imagine her crossing paths with Buri’s spirit.

Last year, Bonney became the first recipient of the newly named Dayna Buri Scholarship for Study Abroad students through the Martin Institute. An existing scholarship was named for Buri to honor her as not only a former international studies student, but also as someone who lived to explore.

I think she took after her grandfather, who always said ‘life is better when it’s fun.’ Even though she died at 31, she lived more life than most people do. Dori Richardson

“Dayna was always adventuring and loved going out and doing her own thing,” said Bill Smith, director of the Martin Institute at U of I’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. “Naming a Study Abroad scholarship in Dayna’s memory seemed like a great way to share her story.”

Woman sitting playing guitar.
Dayna Buri.

Globe Trotter

Buri enrolled at U of I in 2008 after spending time in both Moscow and Colfax, Washington growing up. While she studied International Studies and Spanish, Buri also became interested in discovering what the rest of the world had to offer.

“I think she took after her grandfather, who always said ‘life is better when it’s fun’,” said Dori Richardson, Buri’s mother. “Even though she died at 31, she lived more life than most people do.”

Two and a half years into her studies, Buri took time off to travel. An avid musician and backpacker, she worked at a hostel in Ireland, an artist colony in Bulgaria and an organic farm in Belgium, usually for room and board.  

Buri got married in Scotland and later had her daughter Madeleine in Kirkland. After Madeleine was born, they briefly moved back to Scotland before coming back to the U.S. for good in 2013. They relocated to Moscow where Buri began working to save money to re-enroll at U of I.

Before she was able to come back to campus, she was diagnosed with brain cancer, glioblastoma, in 2015. She passed away in 2018.

Bill Smith

Clinical Full Professor, Director of the Martin Institute

338 Administration Building



Madeleine knew her mom was sick but wasn’t old enough to really help her. But what she could do was help spread the family’s message about hope.

“Hope is the word that stood out to Dayna,” Richardson said. “Hope was the way we looked at the world.”

Although she can’t recall exactly who did it, Richardson remembered a family friend hand-painted the word “Hope” on a rock as Buri began cancer treatments. Madeleine fell in love with the rock and told Richardson she wanted to make hope rocks for all her classmates. The message was simple but powerful.

The project soon expanded as friends of Buri and Madeleine began to help produce the hope rocks. Rocks were even given to everyone at Buri’s memorial. Attendees were encouraged to take them somewhere special, then post photos of their rock on Buri’s Facebook page.

Girl on woman’s shoulders.
Dayna and Maddy.

Rock Star

Since the beginning of the 2023 Fall semester, Bonney has seen and experienced a lot. In-between her studies in France, she took every opportunity to explore other cities – both in her host country (Paris and Bordeaux), as well as in England, Spain and Portugal.

She may not have taken many pictures of herself in those locations, but she took a lot of pictures of her hope rock.

When studying or traveling abroad on scholarship, part of the Martin Institute tradition is for the student to take something with them to remember the person behind the scholarship. Traveling with her hope rock has been easy for Bonney.

“I was moved and honored to be the first person chosen to continue Dayna’s legacy,” she said. “My mom has a strong affinity for painted rocks so that connection really resonates with me and my family.”

A dual major in Environmental Science and international studies, Bonney also sees a lot of parallels between herself and Buri.

“I try to seize every opportunity I can to have new experiences, and it’s taken me to some pretty interesting places,” she said. “It’s important to me to build a life around being open to new experiences, because you never know where they could lead you.”

Bonney recently returned to the U.S. after visiting Scotland, where she continued to immerse herself in what the world has to offer. What Bonney had to offer in return, as she did throughout her journey, was sharing Buri’s story by carrying hope.

“Hope isn’t just about Dayna,” Richardson said. “Everybody needs hope today … now more than ever.”

Woman’s hand holding a rock while walking
Yvette Bonney carried her hope rock across Europe.

Article by David Jackson, University Communications. 

Courtesy photos from Dori Richardson and Yvette Bonney.

Published in February 2024.

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