My Scholarships

I don’t think I’d have been able to attend college right after high school, if I had not received help.   Most likely, I’d have joined the U.S. military and later used the benefits of having served to enable me to attend college.  With help at Vincennes University, I applied for a Federal “National Defense Student Loan-Scholarship,” which I received.    My second scholarship came at the beginning of my senior year at Indiana State College and I dearly needed it as I explain below.

I first attended Vincennes University where in two years I graduated with an A.S. degree.  To save money my freshmen year, I commuted.  To save money my sophomore year I roomed in a house with kitchen privileges. I shared the house with young men, fellow students, some of whom are still friends. On Saturdays, I worked at the Olney Kroger; I dated Barb after work.  I had life under control and was happy.

Fall,1962, both Barb and I were students in Terre Haute, she as a new nursing student and I as a transfer junior at Indiana State University.  I continued to use the Feb loan-scholarship program to pay my tuition while living off campus in a very affordable (read “cheap”) room (again with a kitchen) near where I worked part-time.  I needed to be able to buy groceries and cook and eat in my room.  The student nurses with Barb were the source of a break from my own cooking.  As a serious student who needed top grades, I lived in my head during the week, going from classes to work to home to eat and study.  Often on the week-ends I’d join Barb and her friends and eat at the cafeteria at their school:  I’d sit with them, and, as planned and with their permission, eat off their plates, mostly Barb’s.  I am talking about two to four young ladies and their boyfriends.  The meal was a fun social event which often continued in a ‘dayroom’ where we'd share stories and dream of the future.  I enjoyed the evenings. One of those nurses is still a dear friend of Barb and me and we visit each other at least annually. 

The next summer, a letter from the college arrived reporting I was assigned to a seniors dorm my senior year.  My fear was the expense, not only for the room but also for dinning as for three years I stretched my money by having a kitchen.

I was upset and shared my dilemma with Barb and her family.  I was working at AMF and saving my salary to pay my expenses not covered by the scholarship-loans.  Someone suggested that I contact social organizations like the Elks Club or Odd Fellows to see if I could get a scholarship.   Weeks passed with no success.   In time, Barb’s father, Harry Olson, suggested that I contact his clubs.  I did so that week.  Then I got lucky.   An officer of one called me and interviewed me over the phone.   Then days later, he called me again and reported that the club was awarding me a scholarship in the amount of the dorm fees, including a meal plan.  Over the past 40 years, I've forgotten much, but I do remember being happy the rest of that summer.

Remember I was on the edge of adulthood, more kid than adult.  I was not used to solving life-changing problems.  But with help, I had solved the biggest threat to my success in my young life.  Barb and I had been dating for about three years at that point, and I would have been terribly upset to have had to drop out with the result that I’d be in Olney while she was at her Nursing School in Terre Haute.  I remember being invited that fall to join a men’s honor society at ISU; but I had no money for such a promising star for my college resume. I had no extra money at all. But I was happy to be a senior at ISU.  I was happy to attend classes daily, work part-time as a clerk at a local lumber company, and see Barb and our friends at her hospital on the week-ends. 

I think that being so alone during the week must have contributed to my asking questions in class.  The professor was a type of alter ego; most of them invited questions.  Oh, I had to answer his/hers in return.   I think that academic process of give and take in the classroom stayed in my mind and was a process that I loved to use during my teaching, challenging students with one question after the other.  A fellow professor, a dear friend of mine, once said that a great gift that parents can give their adolescents is one of being able to ask questions of adults.  It transfers to their learning environment and success in college – in life.  

Now in retirement, I enjoy helping to raise scholarship money for current graduating seniors.  I know each of them is very pleased to get help.  I believe it!  Been there; done that!