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PJC holds scholarship donor banquet

Published or Revised December 07, 2015

Scholarship Banquet

The banquet, held in the Student Center Ballroom, was well attended.

Bringing scholarship donors and recipients together was the aim of a banquet held at Paris Junior College on Thursday, Oct. 22. Attendees got to hear from both students and donors during the dinner.

“This has been a goal of ours for a long time,” said PJC President Dr. Pamela Anglin. “We are so glad to see all of you here.”

First to speak was nursing student Anna Watson, who received the Hall-Voyer scholarship and the Hintz scholarship. She relayed how lucky students at PJC are to be able to get scholarships and defy the odds.

“We have very tight competition here, everyone tries their hardest, especially with these scholarships,” Watson said. “I was really pressured in high school to go to a four-year college but in the end it wasn’t for me. What I love about PJC is the class size here. There is so much one on one and you learn so much more because you can interact with your professors. I like being close to home and if I have a tough day at school I can go home and talk to my mom and dad about it. The motto of ‘affordable excellence’ is really rings true. For the great quality of education and knowledge I have received here, I feel like I am way beyond my years in high school in my knowledge from coming here.”

She said she had many friends in the nursing program who struggle to pay for everything and all are grateful to receive scholarships to continue their careers. 

“I have a lot of friends going here who are debt free when they transfer to the college they are going to and I don’t know many people who could say that at a four-year university; they pile on so much debt,” said Watson. “I have loved every single one of the instructors I’ve had here and they’ve been so helpful. I don’t think I could’ve picked a better school to come to.”

Next to speak was Matthew Steman, the 2015 salutatorian from Prairiland High School. He talked of how he had been blessed to receive many awards and titles, from Mr. PHS to state Beta Club president to student council president. He logged 2,000 hours of community service in four years of high school and 31 hours of college credit, as well as speeches in front of thousands of people.

“The story did not begin this way,” said Steman. “As a child I was very sick, spending the first six years of my life in and out of hospitals. The doctors tried to heal my deformed muscles at the end of my esophagus, severe acid reflux and allergic reactions to nearly every food. Throughout my childhood I could not laugh without vomiting, I could not go outside to play; every day was a fight for my life. By the age of seven I had died twice and endured eight grueling surgeries. Due to the extreme medical bills, the majority of my college fund went to simply keeping me alive. Doctors predicted me to have cancer of the esophagus by 18, and be dead by 21. This is not the future God intended for me. Today I am healthy, I can go outside, I can eat the food I want, I can laugh without being in pain. But I believe simply having a life is not enough. Thanks to the generosity of my personal donor Thomas Moore, and to all of you here, each student presented with a scholarship can have a life worth living. Because of your kindness I can fulfill my dream of transferring to Texas Tech and pursuing a degree in biotechnology. With this degree I can help save and protect lives just like mine was. Thank you not just for your money, thank you for your time, your dedication to our lives, and most importantly, to our future.”

“Thomas Moore was an engineer and vice president of Daimler-Chrysler,” said PJC Institutional Development/Alumni Affairs Director Derald Bulls. “He designed cars and has many patents. He still calls Paris, Texas home though he lives in Michigan now.”

Ginna Bowman was the next to speak; explaining how she and her late husband Jay Bowman created a scholarship for students in Paris ISD. She said she believes in giving back; when she graduated from Paris High School she received a Paris News journalism scholarship to PJC for tuition, as well as a band scholarship to cover the cost of books and fees.

She explained how scholarships assisted her to obtain degrees in journalism and her first late husband, Dr. Larry Walker, to be debt free prior to entering medical school after they were married. They donated a PJC nursing scholarship in memory of his cousin Nancy Lenore, who was a professor at East Texas.

“I believe an education is one of the most valuable possessions in life and encouraging students by helping them financially is very important,” Bowman said. “When I married again, my husband Jay Bowman shared my love for this college and he wanted to help by giving scholarships to deserving people. He had attended PJC a year before transferring to Texas A&M at College Station. It’s a sad story if a person who is motivated to further his or her education cannot because of lack of funds. I am thankful for the monetary help that I received and I want to return the favors to others.”

Joan Mathis also spoke at the banquet. She spent 50 years in education, 30 of them at PJC, and currently serves as Secretary of the PJC Alumni and Friends Association. She started a scholarship account in the name of her mother and father with the money she won when named a Piper Professor, and when she was named a Distinguished Alumni the fund grew.

“I grew up with a father who had a saying, ‘where there’s a will there’s a way,’” Mathis said. “And growing up as a sharecropper’s daughter, out six miles from here in the country, I never thought I’d go to college. We had a saying at Powderly School where I went, that is now North Lamar, that said, ‘Without an education in your head, you might as well be dead.’ I remember standing on Mr. T.G. Givens’ porch when I graduated. This tall, handsome, well-dressed man looked down on a 16-year-old and said ‘I would like to present you a $50 scholarship.’ In 1956 $50 meant much. I knew my parents loved me, I knew my parents and grandparents would do whatever they could for me, but here was someone who was not related to me who cared about me and I never forgot that day, standing on that front porch.

“When I was selected as a Master Teacher here at PJC, it taught me that it wasn’t just about me, it was about those who cared about my family. I have been given so much; it is my goal to give back as much as I can.  It’s not about me; it’s about the people who care about me. It’s about people giving back.”

The final speaker was the former vice president of what was called the University of Texas Health Science Center - Tyler, Dr. Ronald Dodson. His recent donations led to the Math & Science lecture halls being named the Benjamin F. and Vera I. Dodson Lecture Halls.

“I want to congratulate the recipients,” Dodson said. “I’m a native Parisian who came to Paris Junior College and considered it as some of the best instructional opportunities afforded to me during my nine years of college. One of those things that bugged me throughout my life is several of my friends who I met here as freshmen could not continue their education because they either had to support themselves and their families or they simply did not have the funds to continue to go to college. Even more discouraging to me, thinking back through the years, was that they were a heck of a lot smarter than I was. Therefore it’s a waste of intellectual capability and Lord only knows what kinds of gifts they could have given to our society. I will tell you that the recent endowments exist here because there is a commitment from those of us that graduated from this institution. There will continue to be as these young folks in their own due time and course as successful members of our society do not forget this institution and what it’s afforded to them. Let me just reiterate that I appreciate having the chance to be here and congratulations again to all of you who are recipients you richly deserve it.”

“The gratitude you can provide your scholarship donors is more than just a thank you,” Dr. Anglin said in her concluding remarks. “The best way that you can honor that donor is to complete your education. That’s a truly big, deep down honor to that scholarship donor.”

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