When children lose their mother or father, they can lose the chance to pursue their educational dreams, too. Alumnus Stephen S. Showers, who died in February 2011, knew firsthand how hard it can be for these students to afford a college degree, and his estate has provided $250,000 for a University-wide scholarship that will assist families facing the emotional and financial consequences of a parent's death.
At the time that Stephen created his estate plan, he reflected on his own family's experiences. "I was 7 years old when my father suddenly passed away, and my mother, Lucille, was faced with supporting our household on her own," said the native of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, in a 2010 interview. "She knew that a college degree would be important to my future, and she saved as much as she could for my education. I would not have been able to enroll at Penn State, however, if she hadn't found a Pennsylvania Senatorial Scholarship for me. I am creating this endowment to honor her."
A 1966 Penn State graduate, Stephen earned a dual master's degree in Education Administration and Counselor Education from Colorado State University and returned to Penn State for his doctoral studies. In 2009, after a long career in higher education, he retired from Towson University, where his posts included associate vice president for facilities management and interim vice president for administration and finance. He continued to live in Towson, Maryland, with his wife, Tate, until his death.
"Through my work, I've had the opportunity to create a better educational experience for thousands of students, and that has been deeply rewarding," Stephen said in 2010. "Now I want to make a difference for Penn State students. This scholarship is not aimed at applicants who have the highest GPAs and test scores. It is directed to undergraduates who have a strong desire to succeed and who do not have two parents at home to help."
Stephen worked with Penn State's Office of Gift Planning to prepare a letter to be shared with recipients of the Stephen S. Showers Scholarship. In that letter, he wrote, "Scholarships changed my life, and I am glad to be able to create this legacy for you. I sincerely hope that you seize the opportunity that Penn State offers and that you are inspired to make that same opportunity possible for future students someday."