Posted: September 2, 2020

Couple further expands support with educational equity scholarships

After creating two scholarships in 2018, one for students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and one for students in the College of Education, Terry and Constance (Connie) Eshenour were looking to make an even greater impact and leave a positive legacy. With that in mind, the couple recently opted to bolster their two existing scholarships by pledging an estate gift to enhance those endowments. And when the University's new Educational Equity Matching Program was announced this summer, they chose to make an additional $100,000 commitment to create two new scholarships for students who will help to create a stronger and more diverse Penn State.

The couple's original scholarships, The Terry and Constance Updegraff Eshenour Endowed Scholarships in the College of Education and the College of Agricultural Sciences, benefit students from Pennsylvania who are in good academic standing, who have a demonstrated financial need and whose gender, ethnic, cultural, and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the student body. In addition, the scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences gives preference to students majoring in Food Science.

The Eshenours' scholarships, which were created with two $50,000 gifts, were each matched 1:1 with University funds through the now-concluded First-Time Endowed Scholarship Matching Program. Their estate gift of $28,000 will be divided to the principal of each scholarship's endowment.

The Eshenours didn't stop with this estate commitment. They have now expanded their support to Penn State with another $100,000 gift, matched 1:1 by the new Educational Equity Matching Program to create two additional scholarships, one each for the College of Agricultural Sciences and the College of Education, known as the Terry and Constance Updegraff Eshenour Educational Equity Scholarships.

First preference for the scholarship in Ag Sciences will be for students who are Penn State Millennium Scholars.  This program is designed for high-achieving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students who will become leaders in their chosen fields and are committed to increasing the diversity of professionals in STEM-related disciplines. Students who complete the program are prepared to pursue further education following their undergraduate education.

“This wonderful commitment by Terry and Connie underscores their passionate belief that a diverse student body is a strong student body," said Kimberly Lawless, dean of the College of Education. “We are grateful for their generous bequest and their new scholarship gift, which will increase opportunities for students of all cultures, ethnicities, gender identities and nationalities to achieve their dream of a degree from the Penn State College of Education."

Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences, echoed that gratitude, saying, “We are deeply grateful for the continued support from Terry and Connie Eshenour. These scholarships provide significant support to talented and diverse students who will go on to become the next generation of leaders in the agricultural sciences. We greatly appreciate these invaluable gifts that ensure our students have a pathway to a degree from Penn State."

The Eshenours have been longtime supporters of the University, giving annually through the Penn State Alumni Association. When the institution's current campaign, A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence, launched, they received information about creating a scholarship with a University match.

“When we saw the option with the First-Time Endowed Scholarships Matching Program, we realized this was an extraordinary way to share some of our gifts with Penn State and those who need it," said Terry, a 1966 graduate in General Agriculture who went on to a career with Welch's and Coca-Cola. “Right away our scholarships were amplified with the match. We also liked the concept that we could always add to it and make the endowment bigger and therefore more people would benefit."

For Terry and Connie, helping others is an important part of their life. Terry's father passed away when he was only a year old. As the surviving son of a veteran and member of a Gold Star Family, Terry was able to alleviate the financial stress of his own college expenses thanks to government programs and scholarships.

Connie, a 1965 graduate in Sociology in the College of the Liberal Arts, grew up as the daughter of parents who had both worked their way through school at Penn State. She always knew she wanted to be a Nittany Lion. She watched her parents personally provide financial assistance to many young men and women who wanted to pursue an education. It was these types of experiences that left an indelible mark on the Eshenours.

“Given where I personally started, with limited resources, and now that we are able to offer financial support, this is a way for us to give back and make sure other students have similar opportunities," said Terry. “That is the core of what we believe in."

Added Connie, “It means a lot to be able to carry on the legacy of my parents. It's also a Christian value that we've both been taught, that we should help others, even those we may not even know."

This desire to help others has also shaped other parts of their life. Connie pursued a career as a social worker and a teacher. She has been a longtime member of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) and is passionate about supporting education. Together, they work with their local church to feed the homeless of downtown Atlanta, something they have continued to do through the pandemic. They also support Alpha Delta Pi sorority's scholarship fund and the Boy Scouts of America, as Terry earned the Eagle Scout Award during his youth.

“With our family taken care of, we have been looking at where else we can make a difference," said Terry. “We've learned to work with Penn State and know this is where we can make the greatest impact and trust that it's going to be carried out."

The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of Penn State and its land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University is pursuing "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: Open Doors, Create Transformative Experiences, and Impact the World. Through teaching, research, and Extension, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of Agricultural Sciences is able to offer scholarships to one in four students, create life-shaping opportunities, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation, and entrepreneurship. To learn more about supporting the college, visit http://agsci.psu.edu/giving. Information about the campaign is available at greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

The Educational Equity Matching Program offers alumni and friends the opportunity to partner with the University in creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive Penn State. Through June 30, 2022, or until the $10 million pool of matching support is expended, donors can multiple the impact of new scholarships for students whose gender, race, ethnic, cultural, and/or national background contribute to the diversity of the Penn State community. This support will help to fulfill Penn State's historic land-grant mission—to reach all citizens of our Commonwealth through teaching, research, and service—and drive transformation across the institution and the larger world. Learn more at greaterpennstate.psu.edu/EEMP.

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