Paved in Gold: Many Possibilities on The Path FORWARD
When Daniel Garcia ’20 graduated from high school in the Bronx, he had little idea of what to expect from college, nor what he wanted to study when he got there.
Raised by his mother who was unable to work due to medical reasons, he said they were “struggling to make ends meet … living in a deteriorating apartment and only affording other necessities such as food because of governmental assistance programs,” he said. “College seemed impossible. I knew though, that pursuing a higher education would ultimately help me and my family escape our dire economic situation.”
A first-generation college student, Daniel accepted admission at SUNY Oswego—far from home in an unfamiliar setting—mostly because of the generous scholarship package that he received as a Marano Scholar.
“I feel fortunate to have been able to study here and learn about a subject I didn’t even know existed when I was in high school,” said the December 2020 computer science graduate. “I didn’t own or have easy access to a computer before attending SUNY Oswego, so being a computer science major wasn’t something even possible for me four years ago. But being selected as a Marano Scholar, I’ve been able to study whatever interested me. And, now, here I am graduating. I am incredibly grateful.”
Daniel is one of more than 600 students who receive privately funded scholarships each year at SUNY Oswego. In November 2019, College President Deborah F. Stanley announced the Path Forward campaign to double the number of need-based scholarships available to students at Oswego from 220 to 440 by June 30, 2021. So far, donors have established a total of 180 new need-based scholarships for current Lakers.
Stories like Daniel’s shine a light on the many paths opened to students by attending SUNY Oswego. Their higher education experience expands their confidence, skills, curiosity and willingness to accept a challenge – all of which stay with Lakers throughout their life.
Take, for example, Jeanne Drahos Jones ’80.
The path that she took after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SUNY Oswego was anything but expected. Instead of accepting a teaching position as she planned, she forged a career as an equity trader and eventually became one of only a few women executives working on Wall Street at the time.
Growing up as one of five daughters in a blue-collar, working-class family in Johnson City, N.Y., she developed a strong appreciation for what opportunities could be created through hard work and economy.
That’s why she picked up extra coursework over the summer to complete her degree a semester early. As much as it pained her to lose a final semester with friends such as her roommate, Terri Converso Slater ’80, she wanted to save the expense of another semester and room and board.
Today, Jeanne has created a scholarship to assist a current SUNY Oswego student who needs financial assistance to remain in college, earn a college degree and hopefully not miss out on the college experience.
“[President Stanley] told us about how kids were dropping out of school because they couldn’t come up with less than $1,000,” Jeanne said. “I could totally relate to that. I remember in my family money was tight. I remember at one point not knowing how I was going to come up with money for a car repair and that feeling of needing $500 or whatever it was back then. So when [President Stanley] said there are students who receive financial aid but just can’t quite cover their costs, that just tugged at my heart strings.”
Little did she know that receiving a thank-you letter from Winston White ’23, the first recipient of the Jeanne Jones ’80 Scholarship, would be an even more emotionally charged experience.
“I almost cried,” she said. “I didn’t think it would affect me this way. I feel connected to him. I’m rooting for him.”
For Winston, he said receiving the scholarship gets him closer to his dream of becoming the first in his family to graduate from college.
The scholarship also inspires him to pursue his double major in theatre and broadcasting and mass communication with an ultimate goal of becoming a successful actor and performing musical theatre on Broadway.
“I hope I get to see him on Broadway,” Jeanne said. “I’d love to be in the audience, sitting there and saying, ‘I know Winston.’”
And for Winston, he said that he hopes someday his path will cross Jeanne’s. As he said in his thank you note to her:
“I can’t thank you enough. I hope I get to meet you in person and embrace you, but with the state of the world, I know that won’t be anytime soon. But please stay safe and thank you once again.”
To learn more about supporting need-based scholarships at SUNY Oswego, visit oswego.edu/pathforward.
Virtual Scholarship Celebration
Check out a website that highlights the impact of philanthropy on our scholarship recipients, and recognizes scholarship donors and student recipients, such as those included on this page.
4 Ways to Support The Path FORWARD
The General Scholarship Fund: Gifts of any size can support the General Scholarship Fund. Your generosity united with others adds up to make a significant difference right now for deserving students who have the greatest financial need.
Current-Use Scholarship: A commitment of $5,000 over five years will establish a named scholarship that will provide $1,000 a year to an incoming student with financial need for a five-year term.
Endowed Scholarship: A gift of $30,000 establishes a named endowed scholarship of $25,000 that will live in perpetuity as well as a five-year, current-use scholarship of $1,000 that would be awarded to an incoming student with financial need to use immediately until the endowed gift is fully funded and invested.
Planned Gift Scholarship: You can establish a scholarship fund by naming the Oswego College Foundation Inc. as a beneficiary in your will or estate plans. You can direct such assets as retirement funds, an insurance policy, charitable trusts or charitable gift annuities to meet your current needs while planting the seeds for future growth at the college. Through your planned gift, you ensure your legacy of supporting Oswego students continues in perpetuity.