Successful Alumni Recall the Differences Scholarships Made
Some of Trinity’s most impressive alumni success stories started with a scholarship. The four Trinity graduates profiled briefly on the following pages all said they could never have considered attending the College were it not for financial aid.
Ward S. Curran '57
Professor Ward S. Curran, who has taught at Trinity for 50 years, might never have headed east to Trinity from his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, if it hadn’t been for the full scholarship provided by the College through its Illinois Scholarship Fund in 1953. It was likely that Curran would have headed off to the University of Illinois at Champaign if he hadn’t heard about Trinity and the Illinois Scholarship from a high school counselor.
“At that time, Trinity cost a couple thousand dollars, which would have been out of the question,” he explained, “but when I was awarded the Illinois Scholarship, it covered the difference in cost and made the difference in my life.”
Curran’s long history of teaching (he also taught a class in finance at Yale on numerous occasions over a 30-year period) and his expertise in economics have made him an outspoken advocate for building up the College’s endowment. Now semi-retired, he continually reminds his students, fellow faculty members, and alumni how important it is to give back to Trinity, to keep it strong for future generations.
Professor Curran’s career as a teacher has also been touched by philanthropy. Peter Kraus ’74 and Jill Kraus endowed the Ward S. Curran Distinguished Professor of Economics chair at Trinity, and Professor Curran himself was the first to receive the honor. “A very large number of students would be shut out of an education as fine as Trinity’s without financial aid,” Curran said. “And the world would miss the productive lives that might have transpired and the contributions that would have been made to society.
The Honorable Patrice Ball-Reed '80
Patrice Munzel Ball-Reed, associate judge of the Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, recent president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, and recipient of untold honors in the legal community, still has a bit of the college cheerleader in her when she talks about Trinity College. She serves as an enthusiastic supporter of the College in her roles as trustee, adviser, and volunteer extraordinaire. It was in her second year as a trustee, she recalls now, that “the light bulb went on over my head” and she realized how critical philanthropy is to the future of her alma mater and the key role it played in establishing her own future. “I need to be more vocal in explaining to people the incredible impact that scholarships have, not just on the students, but on the school itself.”
For all of the influence Ball-Reed wields as a leader at Trinity, she would never have set foot on the campus without full scholarship support from the Scholarships for Illinois Residents, Inc. (Today, she serves on the board that selects the recipients.)
At 17, she arrived by herself on Trinity’s campus—without ever having set foot outside of Illinois on her own. She soon declared a major in economics and got involved in a variety of extra-curricular opportunities. In addition to cheerleading, she became involved in the Tripod, Cinestudio, and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
She credits both her parents and the women in her extended family—paternal great-grandmother and grandmother and her aunts—for establishing in her both a strong work ethic and high expectations. “My mother was a grammar school crossing guard,” she explains. “She didn’t go to college, but she wanted that for me. She worked every day, rain or shine. Her work ethic and continued support were the inspiration for me. I was determined to succeed. “I have learned how much it takes to create a college education and all of the financial support required to maintain it,” she said. “It was eye-opening to me how important endowment is to the kind of students that Trinity can attract and the opportunities that we can provide them.”
Karen Jeffers '76
When Karen Jeffers was a girl growing up as the youngest of four children in a middleclass family in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, paying for a premier private college like Trinity seemed out of the question. Thanks to her good grades, Jeffers’ family knew that she might qualify for scholarships. “I knew I wanted an excellent school with smaller classes and more personal experiences,” she said.
With a combination of student loans, work-study, and substantial financial aid from the College, Jeffers found exactly the private education that she desired as a prelude to law school. She quickly excelled as a Phi Beta Kappa scholar and earned a number of academic accolades including the President’s Fellowship, the Ferguson Prize, and the Class of 1922 Award. After Trinity, she went on to earn a J.D. degree from Columbia University, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. A highly successful attorney, she founded her own firm, Jeffers Cowherd, in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 1992.
Today, she relishes reaching out to current students to help them attain their own lofty ambitions. “In 2001, I wanted to do something special for my 25th Reunion at Trinity, so I established a scholarship,” she says modestly. The scholarship provides $25,000 a year to a student from Bridgeport or a similar urban area.
“I realize more than ever now the role that scholarship support plays in making higher education accessible to young people who can’t afford it,” she said. "There is nothing more rewarding than helping make someone’s education more attainable.”
Ray Joslin '58
When Ray Joslin was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in 2010, multiple speakers alluded to his storied impact on television. He played a major role in bringing cable TV to rural areas back in the mid-1960s, and his vision for the medium began to grow. The company of which he was a co-founder, Continental Cablevision, Inc., became the third largest cable company in the nation and is now a major part of Comcast. Later, as president of Hearst Entertainment, a division of The Hearst Corporation, he led in the development of scores of cable programming networks worldwide.
It all could have turned out much differently. As a boy, Joslin was raised in Connecticut foster homes from an early age until his grandparents took him in to their fourth-floor tenement overlooking a gas station in South Providence, Rhode Island, an area he likens to the South Bronx. Though not well-educated themselves, they impressed upon him the merits of manners, grammar, and a good education. “It was a tough neighborhood, and I wanted desperately to get out,” he recalls.
As Joslin is often quoted as saying, good luck doesn’t just happen. “If you put yourself in a good arena with good people, good things will happen,” he says. “Trinity was that good arena for me,” he adds. “It was the place where my life took an entirely different course. Trinity opened the door to a brand new life for me.”
To honor that life-changing experience, Joslin and his wife Alicia created the Joslin Family Scholarship in 1999, which has so far provided 69 scholarships. “The Joslin Scholars represent the demographics of the world and are amazingly talented, with high aspirations,” he says. “Every year I remind the scholars that they must pay it forward with their success to those who follow them at Trinity,” he adds. “It is the most rewarding thing I do. I am getting a huge kick out of it. I tell people, ‘Don’t wait until you die to give your money away—be around for the fun!’”