Future St. College students will benefit from Clair County Community College from a new endowment fund set up at the Saint Clair County Community Foundation thanks to a gift from Robert J. Sargent, Ph.D., SC4 graduate and Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University.
The fund will offer two scholarships each year to students who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
“I attended SC4 in 1954 until 56 when it was Port Huron Junior College,” Sargent said in a recent press release. I came from a working class family and had no money to pursue my studies at university. I had decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering because I enjoyed math and science in high school and had won many awards for my electrical projects in 4-H. Port Huron Junior College provided the opportunity I needed to obtain an outstanding education in my first two years of pursuing engineering studies. “
Sargent graduated from St. Clair High School after attending a one-room school located in the town of St. Clair where he was the only pupil in some of his grades. He was the first in his family to attend college.
When he was a student at SC4, Sargent was on the tennis team, at Circle K, bowling and Letterman’s Club, as well as working various jobs to pay college tuition. He also came into contact with a large group of about a dozen like-minded students with whom he would stay in contact throughout his life.
Sargent earned his Associate of Science degree from SC4 before transferring to the University of Michigan where he resided with fellow SC4 alumni.
“All of us who went from SC4 to UM together were well prepared,” said Sargent, who continued to juggle jobs while he was a full-time student at UM.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Sargent accepted a position at Hughes Aircraft, where he received his first offer of digital computers. He returned to school after two and a half years in the industry to pursue a Ph.D. in simulation.
After receiving his Ph.D., Sargent enrolled at Syracuse University to participate in the new graduate program in systems and information sciences. Shortly after his arrival, Sargent became involved in contract research between the USAF and Syracuse University. His work in simulation has been sponsored by both institutions, creating an environment and relationship in which significant contributions to the field can be fostered throughout his career.
Sargent is now recognized as a world-renowned pioneer and authority in the simulation business, having received numerous professional awards and given lectures in the United States and around the world, according to the statement. Recently, along with fellow engineering alumni who first attended SC4 and then moved to the University of Michigan in the 1950s, he visited SC4 and toured the campus with Bonnie Dinardo, SC4’s Executive Director of Community and Public Relations.
“We haven’t been to college in years and have been very impressed by the size of the campus and the technology used, particularly in STEM-based facilities such as the Health Sciences Building, Experience Center and Challenger Learning Center,” Sargent said in the statement. “None of us would have gone to college without SC4. There are endless possibilities in STEM careers – especially in engineering fields – and a huge need. People can have wonderful lives, income, and support. Community colleges like SC4 can continue to play a huge role. And scholarships can help students pursue such fields for years to come.”
Sargent established the Robert J. Sargent Scholarship Fund through the SC4 Foundation in the Community that assists SC4 engineering students with financial needs who plan to transfer to a university to continue their engineering education.
“I have had the pleasure of assisting such outstanding alumni as Dr Sargent’s plan is as a great gift to the college,” Jackie Hunton said in the statement. “He knew exactly what he wanted to do for the students, and I was happy to help him finish a qualified charitable distribution meaning his gift was not only significant and impactful, but also provided him with tax savings.”
SC4 students can apply for Sargent Scholarships for Engineers starting in 2023. Selection will be based on financial need with preference for students who are transferring to the university to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering.
“We thank Dr. Sargent for his generous gift to assist SC4 students and for his ongoing advocacy for Community College pathways to transfer students and degrees,” said SC4 President Dr. Deborah Snyder. SC4 graduates like Dr. Sargent are doing an amazing job. His distinguished career in simulation has influenced countless individuals, here in Michigan and around the world.”
The SC4 Foundation connects donors to opportunities to support SC4 in any way that suits their interests. Whether it supports students, opportunities on campus, or improvements to learning spaces, SC4 is proud to support the college, the statement said.
SC4 and the Community Foundation bring to the District 175 years of community service in education and philanthropy. Since 2018, the collaborative charitable partnership between organizations allows donors to have a greater impact on SC4 students and the community.
Community Foundation Blog
At Community Foundation in St. Clair County, Hanton and President and CEO Randy Myers have started a new monthly blog.
“These new monthly blogs are meant to help provide a better idea of the inner workings and philosophy of the Community Foundation,” Myers said. “I don’t think we have any real plan in place other than to help highlight aspects of our work that may not be shown through the normal channels or aspects and complexities of our work that people may not be aware of.”
He said that over the past few years, the Society Foundation has grown significantly in size, as well as in the complexity of its work.
“We manage a large amount of assets – whether property, real estate/buildings or something else,” he said. “We help our donors give millions of dollars each year, but we also help organize and facilitate new programs and initiatives.”
He said blogging would allow him and Hunton to help focus their constituents’ attention on a larger casual topic.
“Helping people and donors tell their stories is really the best thing we do,” Myers said. “Our work isn’t about us, it’s about connecting donors with opportunities to do something great, like Dr. Sargent does.”
For more information, visit stclairfoundation.org.