The Path Forward campaign provides students with vital scholarship support
|Jose Angel Reyes Munoz ’22 and his wife, Viktorija Andra Reyes ’14 M’15, listed all their household and family expenses with their four children, examined all sources of income and recognized that they needed another source of income. Otherwise, one of two things would happen: They would fall behind on their bills or Jose could no longer continue toward his goal of earning a college degree and becoming a science teacher.||Didem Demir ’20 of Istanbul, Turkey, dreamed of attending a college in America, and thanks to her strong academic record in high school, she earned academic scholarships that enabled her to enroll at SUNY Oswego to study marketing. Then in 2018, Turkey experienced a currency and debt crisis that had the Turkish Lira plunging in value, reaching record lows against the U.S. dollar. Financing her education suddenly became a pressing issue for her and her family.||As a double major in human resource management and sociology, Keith Loh ’20 kept a full academic course load and tried to get involved in as many activities as he could. But with two campus jobs with Auxiliary Services and Campus Life, he didn’t have as much time for the extracurricular experiences as he would have liked.|
The Path FORWARD
Thankfully, all three students received privately funded scholarships from the Oswego College Foundation that helped keep their life’s trajectory on course and ensured that they could take advantage of all the opportunities afforded by a SUNY Oswego education.
In November 2019, SUNY Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley announced a new college-wide priority, The Path Forward, to help provide more scholarship support to Lakers like Jose, Didem and Keith. The campaign seeks to double the number of privately funded, need-based scholarships available for students from 220 to 440 by June 30, 2021.
To date, a total of more than 100 new scholarships have been created in this campaign.
“I continue to be impressed with the way our loyal alumni rally around the college to address an articulated need for support,” said Michael Durney ‘83, chair of the Oswego College Foundation. “For many of us, SUNY Oswego created a pathway to our successful careers, and we continually hear how grateful our alumni are for their Oswego education. Whenever possible, they express that gratitude by supporting the college and our current students. On behalf of the foundation, I thank them for their generosity and leadership in paving the way for the next generation.”
Tracing Paths Back to Oswego
“The only way I could afford college was through Pell Grants and student loans,” said Jim Triandiflou ’88, retired CEO of Relias Learning in Cary, N.C., and a benefactor of the newly created James Triandilou ’88 Scholarships. “In my company we hire many new college grads who have tens of thousands of dollars in loans. This financial burden is stressful and also makes it harder for kids to do things that contribute to independence and happiness. The Path Forward campaign helps those with the greatest need go to college with less stress and begin their after-college life free to chase their dreams!”
Jim attributes much of his own success to his foundational experiences and education at SUNY Oswego.
“My friends (4th floor Oneida!), family (my sister Lynn [Triandiflou Franey ’89] went to Oz with me) and career (thank you, Professor Molinari) all sprung out of my time at Oswego,” he said. “Being part of the Student Association was a confidence-building experience. I left Oz with confidence to take chances and compete with kids from ‘the best’ schools. Thirty years later I’ve lived a life beyond my wildest dreams. I’ve been so fortunate and it’s a blessing to be able to help others.”
Wes Brown ’68, professor emeritus of English at Rutgers University, decided to establish a scholarship to pay tribute to the profound role SUNY Oswego had in shaping his life’s path as well as to ensure that others can reap the same benefits.
He traces his 30-plus years as a successful educator and author to many formative experiences at Oswego during a tumultuous time in the country. During college, he attended a lecture by two Civil Rights activists and ended up using that connection to work on voter registration in Mississippi in the summer of 1965.
That experience fueled his own passion to write and create change in the country. He also grew from interactions with many of his professors with whom he remained close for years after his graduation.
“College is a time where you challenge others’ perceptions and are challenged in return,” he said. “That push and pull is as it should be, and helps you develop. You are never too old to learn or too young to teach. Oswego taught me that. I hope that my scholarship makes it possible for other students who might not otherwise have had the opportunity, to embark on an adventure of learning.”
Dr. Douglas ’75 M’87 and Susan Pierce Lohnas ’74 heeded the call when they heard that students at their alma mater were at risk of dropping out of school due to financial situations. They established an endowed scholarship to support Oswego students with financial need.
“Looking back, it is hard to imagine what our lives would have been like without SUNY Oswego,” Douglas said. “We are small-town people. Living with a diverse population, opening our minds through a solid education and meeting each other have shaped the path we have enjoyed for almost 50 years so far. We want others to have that same opportunity.”
Continuing on the Path
Jose said the Jack C. James ’62 Scholarship he received enabled him to stay in school and he will make the most of the opportunity afforded him.
“This is the first time I ever received a scholarship, so being selected for one is very encouraging and has motivated me to work harder,” Jose said. “I don’t want to let the donor down and I want him to feel proud of me and what I will accomplish.”
Jose has big plans for his own future, and as the first in his family to go to college, he is paving the way for his four children to follow in his footsteps.
“I have a passion for teaching the world about our planet, and I am good at it,” he said. “I love the look on kids’ faces when they realize they understood a concept or when they came up with their own idea. I love helping people and I love teaching. There is no better way to combine my passions than becoming a teacher.”
Because of the additional funds Didem received as the recipient of the Curtis M. Pearsall ’75 Scholarship, she, too, was able to remain in college. She graduated in May summa cum laude and plans to apply to graduate school to earn an MBA.
“The scholarship was a significant help to me during a very unusual circumstance based on an unexpected financial problem,” she said. “Without that support, I wouldn’t even be able to complete my degree; therefore, I am grateful to the donor for making an investment in my future career.”
Keith said being the recipient of the KeyBank Scholarship eased his financial burdens and freed up some time to focus more on his education and developing his relationships.
“Coming to SUNY Oswego has been like a dream, and it truly is—and will be—the best four years of my life,” he said. “I have come to meet many great and amazing people, some of whom I believe will be lifelong friends.”
And for many, it’s the relationships forged at Oswego that leave a lasting impression—that campus members carry with them as they venture on paths away from Oswego’s lakeshores.
“SUNY Oswego is such an engaging campus,” said Bridget Curran ’92, a scholarship benefactor, a member of the Sheldon Legacy Society and inspection manual coordinator with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “There is always someone who is willing to help with your education—professors who have study hours, tutors who make themselves available and are able to share their knowledge, or roommates and dorm mates who encourage success. Relationships that revolve around SUNY Oswego seem to stand the test of time. Wonderful memories from my time at Oswego, both as a student and as an alumna attendee of Oswego events, encourage me to give back to a wonderful institution.”