Jo Frances Stow, of Atlantic City, has helped a lot of students pay for college.
A member of the Richard Stockton College Foundation Board of Directors since 1983, she co-chaired the scholarship selection committee for three decades.
She also sponsors three personal scholarships each year, typically awarding about $1,000 each. One, for a nursing students, was started in 1989 in memory of her mother, Frances N. Christian. A second, started in 2009 for student veterans, is in memory of her late husband, Col. Kenneth R. Stow, who - after retiring from the Air Force - joined the administrative staff of the then-new Richard Stockton College.
The third, started this year, is a scholarship for a student studying public health. Stow was a professor of public health at the college from 1979 to 1988.
"I don't really feel I've done anything special," said Stow, 86, who also hosts a table of veterans at the annual Stockton Scholarship Benefit Gala, scheduled for April 26 at Stockton's Seaview Hotel ad Golf Club in Galloway Township.
This year's event will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Stockton, and will honor President Herman Saatkamp and his wife Dorothy's lifelong commitment to education. Mrs. Saatkamp is a retired special education teacher. The couple also celebrates their 50th wedding anniversary this year.
In addition to tickets, funds are raised through sponsorships and an on-site auction, which this year includes dinner, wine and service in the winning bidder's home prepared by Chef Warner Christy of Steve and Cookie's By the Bay in Margate. Owner Cookie Till is a Stockton alumna. Lisa Johnson of Lisa Johnson Communications is chairing the auction.
Besides Stow, other top sponsors this year include Avalon Flooring, Dolce Hotels & Resorts, IBEW Local 351; The Azeez Foundation, the Cooper Levenson Law Firm, Dr. Howard and Gayle Gross, Horizon Eye Care, AtlantiCare, The Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, Chartwells, Follett Higher Education Group, Kramer Beverage Company and the Kramer Family Foundation, Marathon Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc.
The Gala, has raised more than $5 million over the past 10 years for student scholarships. The College Foundation, which sponsors the Gala, awarded just over $500,000 to 224 students for scholarships for the 2013-2014 year, college officials said, helping to offset the cost of tuition and fees, which this year cost $12,322. Some grants can also be used to cover room, board and books, which can add another $10,000 to $12,000 to the cost.
This year Stow's veteran scholarship recipient is Robert Sistler, 46, of Upper Township agrees. The social work major at Stockton served in the U.S. Army for more than a decade, participating in Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Bosnia. A trained land surveyor, he found work after leaving the Army, but an injury made the work increasingly difficult, so he decided to return to college.
Stow said that even with the GI Bill, it is difficult to pay for college and support a family. Scholarships have helped tremendously, especially since he wants to work with military families, and must still get his master's degree to meet all the requirements. He plans to attend Rutgers University in Camden after graduating from Stockton in May.
"I was a military family," he said. "I feel I can empathize with them."
Stow said she and her husband supported Stockton and the gala for years, and she is just continuing that support for as long as she can. She enjoys meeting the recipients and said Sistler's thank-you letter was one of the most touching she has received. In it he talks about the work he hopes to do with veterans and military families and said he hopes to follow in her footsteps to help others achieve their dreams as she has helped him.
Stow said she wishes more people would consider donating scholarships.
"We need more and larger scholarships," she said.
Contact Diane D'Amico:
If you go
The 34th Annual Stockton College Scholarship Benefit Gala will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at Stockton's Seaview Resort on Route 9 in Galloway Township. Tickets are $225 per person and may be obtained at www.stockton.edu/gala or by calling Dawn Hans at 609-652-4830.
Information on creating or donating to a scholarship at Stockton is also online at www.stockton.edu/foundation.