Like a salesperson, eyes twinkling, voice lowered, W.C. Cunningham closed the deal.
"We've just formed a new college district in the area named San Jacinto Junior College," said the Galena Park ISD superintendent. "Your son could stay home and go to college."
With those words, Cunningham convinced an Oklahoma country school principal to teach at North Shore Senior High School and his son, then-16-year-old Charles Grant, to launch a lifelong connection with San Jac.
Grant numbered among San Jac's early Associate of Arts graduates in 1967. He went on to earn higher degrees, culminating in a Doctor of Philosophy degree, before returning to San Jac in 1983. From instructor for management development to his last position as North Campus president, he served the College 25 years.
"I am passionate about San Jacinto College, and I'm positive I would not have been as successful had I not gone there," he said. "At San Jac, you have a name and get the personal attention that's impossible to get as a freshman or sophomore at a state university."
The College delivered on its promise of a better future with more opportunities. That's why today Grant is paying it forward as a Promise Partner, giving current and future students the chance to attend debt-free.
Earning nursing degree without debt
Thanks to a generous donation from philanthropists MacKenzie Scott and Dan Jewett in 2021, the College created the Student Success Fund Endowment to expand Promise @ San Jac Scholarships. Now available to every in-district high school graduate, these scholarships cover up to three years of tuition and books so students like Cynthia Jennings can earn a degree or certificate debt-free.
For Jennings, Promise not only helped her laser-focus on her studies but also motivated her to apply for the College's nursing program.
"Once I received the Promise Scholarship, I began to excel in academic life at San Jac," Jennings said. "I made the dean's list every single semester. I am beyond grateful for receiving Promise funding because it is fulfilling my dreams, my career, and my future."
Investing in students' future
Now the San Jacinto College Foundation is raising the final $10 million to fully fund the $30 million endowment. Part of the investment income will fund Promise Scholars' tuition, while the principal will remain invested to continue funding students for years to come. That's a Texas-sized goal, and we need your support to reach it.
If San Jac gave you, your spouse, or your child a better future, why not give that gift to someone else? As a Promise Partner, you have the opportunity.
Become a Promise Partner with your monthly, annual, or one-time gift. Whether you donate $20 a month or a one-time gift of $200,000, your tax-deductible donation will make an impact.
Although Grant pledged to become a Promise Partner during the College's 60th anniversary gala, he jokes he's always been one from writing his first check for a scholarship fund in 1983 to giving yearly to the Foundation. But it's no joke San Jac has made a difference in his life and those of nearly 100,000 other graduates.
"Education is the key to a better quality of life, and San Jacinto College has given that key to so many students over the years," Grant said.