Profound impact

Chelsea Sprouse '13, whose three-week May term in Argentina this year was partially funded by a Helen C. Cobbs Scholarship.

Chelsea Sprouse '13, whose three-week May term in Argentina this year was partially funded by a Helen C. Cobbs Scholarship.

With the struggling economy and rising cost of higher education, scholarships often are the tipping point in making education possible for students.

From the Roanoke College Magazine, Issue Three, 2012. View the entire Roanoke Magazine online.

J. Crigler Price never had the chance to go to college. As a 12-year-old when the Great Depression began, Crigler was expected to help with chores on the family farm, leaving very little time to study. Though he attended business school in Richmond before World War II broke out, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served the majority of the war in the Aleutian Islands off the Alaskan Coast. By the time Crigler and his wife, Myra, married in 1951, he had established his career as a home contractor and a junior partner in a wood preserving plant in Madison, Va.

Even so, an appreciation for higher education was a value Crigler shared with Myra, who graduated from Milligan College in Tennessee. The couple worked hard and saved diligently to make sure that their sons, J. Christopher Price '75, and R. Keith Price '77, could attend Roanoke College.

"I don't remember discussing with my parents a college education at all-it was clearly assumed," says the Rev. J. Christopher Price, pastor of Epiphany Lutheran Church in Richmond, Va. and a member of the Roanoke College Board of Trustees. "Both came to appreciate the broad liberal arts education my brother and I received at Roanoke. I think my family grew to love the close, engaged community that Roanoke College provided, in addition to its fine education."

Several years before Myra Price's death in 2010, she and her husband established the J. Crigler and Myra Price Endowed Scholarship at Roanoke College to provide tuition support to students. The gift, which was matched by the Mulheren Scholarship Challenge, gives first preference to Lutheran students-particularly those from the couple's Hebron Lutheran Church in Madison or Epiphany Lutheran Church in Richmond, where Christopher Price is pastor.

"My dad was always wise in his investments and certainly very generous with them," says Price, who also has contributed to his parents' fund. "It was very moving for me that a fellow who didn't have the opportunity to go to college himself wanted to see that so many others - not just his children - would be able to get a college education."

Bridging the Gap

Scholarships at Roanoke College have always been important, but as the national cost of higher education and related services have skyrocketed over the past three decades - combined with the day-to-day economic struggles many families have faced in recent years - this kind of support has become even more crucial for students. More than 85 percent of Roanoke students receive Roanoke College scholarships and grants, and a full 30 percent are qualified for and selected to receive endowed scholarships such as the one established by the J. Crigler and Myra Price. These resources often are the tipping point in making a Roanoke education possible. 

"These scholarships really do make the difference of whether students can attend their dream school or not - that's what it boils down to," says Brenda Poggendorf '81, vice president of enrollment and dean of admissions and financial aid. "We as alumni have to help. And there's no amount that's too small. Any amount can help a student."

The Roanoke College Admissions Office strives to shape a student body of geographic, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity - along with a wide range of academic interests, leadership skills and talents - who can make positive contributions to the institution, Poggendorf says. Having scholarship money available helps the College achieve those goals by attracting students who are the best fit for the institution.

"We don't ever want finances to stand in the way of a young person being able to attend Roanoke," says President Michael Maxey. "Scholarships are the gateway to allow students who really want to be at Roanoke to attend here and thrive here. It removes a barrier that might keep them from attending otherwise."

Jackson Collier '16, from Richmond and the recipient of the Price scholarship, understands the difference scholarships can make. Collier's family has been connected with Roanoke College for several generations. His great-grandfather Dr. Newton Beeton '33 and great-uncle Harvey Beeton '52, attended Roanoke, as did his grandfather, John W. Jackson '69, and his mother, Dagny Jackson Collier '93. He's appreciative that people he never even met would give so generously to support his education.

"These scholarships are from people who went here or really love this school and want to keep it strong. [They] ensure that other young people would have the chance to come here and experience what they experienced," says Collier, a history major with a concentration in legal studies. "Their support really takes the weight off my shoulders."

Why Do Alumni Give?

Many of Roanoke's scholarship donors are alumni who benefitted from scholarships when they were students. They give as an expression of gratitude and a desire to continue the mission of Roanoke's liberal arts education.

Albert and Carol Prillaman '68, '68, both natives of Bassett, Va., would not have had the financial means to attend college without the assistance of scholarships. A basketball player at Bassett High School, Albert was encouraged by his coach Richard "Dick" Leftwich '62, to consider Roanoke. Leftwich was instrumental in helping Prillaman secure a basketball scholarship to the College. Carol, who attended Mary Baldwin College for a year, transferred to Roanoke on an academic scholarship.

In addition to establishing the Albert and Carol Prillaman Endowment in honor of Coach Leftwich to provide funds for Roanoke's basketball program, the couple -with their children, Leanne P. Harrison '88, and Glenn Prillaman '93 -established the Michael C. Maxey Endowed Scholarship and the Gring Endowed Scholarship. These scholarships, benefitting students from southern Virginia, signify their respect and affection for President Maxey and former President David Gring.

"Roanoke College gave a lot to us, and we're just trying to give something back," says Albert Prillaman, a former member of Roanoke's Board of Trustees who was an executive at Stanley Furniture Co. for 40 years. "We hope it will relieve some of the financial stress of going to college."

"For us, Roanoke College has meant that we could get a strong education, and I'm strongly in favor of a liberal arts education," adds Carol, who taught Spanish at Bassett High School and had President Maxey as a high school student. "I really enjoyed Roanoke College and think I got a good education there."

Jennifer Quigg '13, a senior biology major from Martinsville, has received numerous scholarships, including the Gring Endowed Scholarship. As she applied to colleges during her senior year of high school, Quigg knew that scholarship money would be necessary to attend Roanoke - her first choice. She applied for almost 40 scholarships and received more than 10 from various sources.

"Applying for scholarships was a big-time thing for me because I knew getting them would be the only way I could come to Roanoke," says Quigg, who plans to pursue a career in forensics science. "The scholarships I received have paid for almost my entire education."

For Sam Smith '14, who's double-majoring in business administration and literary studies, Roanoke offers the ideal learning environment with small class sizes and personal attention from the faculty.

"I have a lot of gratitude for the support I have received and I know that a lot of alumni probably contribute because they had scholarships when they were students and attribute much of their success to the education they got at Roanoke," says Smith, a Martinsville native who receives the Maxey Endowed Scholarship. "It makes me think about the previous generations here at Roanoke, and I'm thankful for their generosity."

International Experiences

Roanoke College strives to cultivate global awareness among students and to facilitate opportunities for cross-cultural understanding. The Helen Cobbs International Intensive Learning Scholarship allows students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities during the three-week May term.

The scholarship is named for the late Helen Cobbs, a lifelong Roanoke resident and longtime secretary for the dean of women and president of Hollins College (now Hollins University), who left a bequest to Roanoke through her will. The endowment is a fitting memorial for a woman who loved traveling and enjoyed young people.

"We thought that Helen would be thrilled for her financial gift to help a student study abroad," says Cobbs' cousin, Kathy Tucker '72, who serves on the advisory committee for the Helen C. Cobbs Foundation. "She enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life, and she liked to travel. We knew she would not have wanted a young person to be denied that experience just because they didn't have money."

For Chelsea Sprouse '13, a three-week May term in Argentina partially funded by a Cobbs Scholarship proved to be a life-changing experience. A Spanish minor, Sprouse says that immersion in the South American culture broadened her horizons and improved her language skills.

"The trip to Argentina was one of the best experiences of my life, and I would go back in a heartbeat," says the Salem native. "Without the Cobbs scholarship, I would not have been able to experience anything like I did during May Term in Argentina. For this, I am truly grateful."

Christopher Beckman '14, a religion and international relations major from Roanoke, received a Cobbs Scholarship to study in Rome. For Beckman, who is passionate about ancient Greek and Roman cultures, the trip allowed him to see many historically important places and pick up a little of the Italian language.

"Quite frankly, I probably wouldn't have been able to go on the trip without the Cobbs Scholarship," says Beckman, noting that this was his first trip outside of Virginia. "It was eye-opening for me to go to Europe and to experience the culture."

Scholarship contributions established through estate gifts are an ideal way for alumni and friends of the College to give, says Rick Poggendorf, director of gift planning. "They allow folks who are passionate about Roanoke to establish a legacy gift that lives in perpetuity. They worked their whole life to achieve that gift, and it's truly a gift that gives forever."

Anyone who loves Roanoke may choose to support departments, programs or activities that interest them personally while expanding opportunities for students. The Patricia M. Gathercole Endowed Scholarship, for example, is funded by a bequest from Dr. Gathercole, a professor and chair of modern languages at Roanoke from 1956 to 1989. Her gift will strengthen the department for future generations.

Rallying Maroon Support

When alumni, parents and friends support Roanoke, their actions speak volumes about the value of their personal experiences at the College and their desire to continue that for years to come. These gifts make way for more students to take advantage of all Roanoke has to offer. Perhaps even more important, scholarships help to pass on the lessons of philanthropy that may have a lasting effect on young people and society as a whole.

"Scholarships are a reminder of the high ideals that the donor held for the College and its students," says Olin Melchionna Jr., a member of Roanoke's Board of Trustees and the attorney who managed Helen Cobbs' estate.

"If the students really stop to think that somebody gave them a break and a helping hand that might really have made a difference - perhaps when they get out and start working and enjoying success in life, they can pass on the same kindness that was bestowed on them."

- Karen Doss Bowman

How to make a gift:  You may designate your gift to a particular interest or you may give an undesignated gift that will support the College. You may be able to double your gift through employer matching funds. Gifts to Roanoke College can be made in the following ways:  cash or check, credit card, securities, bequests, real estate, electronic withdrawal or direct debit. For more information, visit

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