Corsons share blessings with scholarship endowment

Sylvia Corson, right, is surprised to see her mentor, CSUB psychology professor Dr. Kathy Ritter, at Dewar's when she arrives for a birthday celebration.
Sylvia Corson, right, is surprised to see her mentor, CSUB Psychology Professor Dr. Kathy Ritter, at Dewar’s when she arrives for a birthday celebration.
Sylvia Corson is in disbelief when she opens a gift-wrapped box and finds an endowment agreement for a scholarship in her name.
From left: John Corson, CSUB Dean of Social Sciences and Education Dr. Kathleen Knutzen, Sylvia Corson, CSUB Psychology Professor Dr. Kathy Ritter, and CSUB Development Officer Patty Keefer.

Rev. John and Sylvia Corson have everything they need in life. So when John thought about what to do for his wife’s milestone 75th birthday, he decided to honor her in an extra-special way. He secretly worked with a development officer at his wife’s alma mater, California State University, Bakersfield, to establish the Sylvia Bradbury Corson Scholarship Endowment. Then he asked family and friends to pitch in to the fund.

“There is no piece of jewelry that would last and endure and have as much meaning as a scholarship for students,” said John. “She had a marvelous experience at Cal State when she got her master’s. It seems an appropriate way to recognize her, her life, her achievements, and to give back to others.”

John surprised Sylvia with the gift by taking her to the local ice cream shop Dewar’s for an afternoon birthday treat. When they arrived, a small contingent from CSUB waited inside to surprise her with blue and gold cupcakes, flowers, and a gift-wrapped box containing the endowment agreement. Sylvia was astounded.

“I just started crying because my family and friends mean so much and to think they would do this for me, this was just an overwhelming, touching, meaningful thing for my life,” Sylvia said

She also was appreciative of her guests: her mentor at CSUB, psychology professor Dr. Kathy Ritter, the dean of the School of Social Sciences and Education, Dr. Kathleen Knutzen, and the CSUB development officer who worked with Rev. Corson to establish the endowment, Patty Keefer.

“It was a very special moment,” Keefer said. “Sylvia was so surprised and overwhelmed with joy. This is truly the best part of my job – to help people help others.”

Sylvia earned a master’s degree in counseling from CSUB in 1980 and worked for many years as a marriage and family therapist. As per her intent, the scholarship will be awarded to majors in social sciences and education with an interest in social services or counseling.

The scholarship endowment was started with just $5,000 raised from more than 50 donations from family and friends – which shows that every gift matters, large and small. As the endowment grows, the investment earnings will be used to award the scholarship. The Corsons plan to continue giving toward the endowment to increase the amount awarded to students each year.

“It’s planting a seed that we want to see grow,” John said. “It’s more fun to see our gifts at work now rather than to wait until we die. This gives us a commitment, a reminder that we want to see this grow.”

To discuss setting up a scholarship or program endowment at CSUB, contact Patty Keefer or Bart Hill in University Advancement at 661-654-2136.

– Jennifer Burger, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator