Hard work comes full
For two decades, The
McCurry Foundation has helped more than 150 students realize their dream of
going to college.
were students with good grades, leadership skills and who were willing to work
to help pay for their college education – all attributes of their late
benefactor, Edgar W. McCurry Jr.
Marketing to those
students was a bit of a stretch for the small foundation, according to
McCurry’s son, Wood. The selections were made by “a half-dozen people with
careers who got this work done when they were able to t it in,” he said.
But a new relationship
with the University of North Florida addresses those issues. McCurry said the
corpus of the foundation is in the process of being transferred to UNF, which
he believes will effectively manage the funds.
He said the school’s donor
engagement team has made the transition an easy process and is targeting the
kind of students who match the foundation’s criteria.
The elder McCurry began
developing leadership skills early in life. When he was just 16, he sought
sponsorship from a U.S. Senator in his home state of North Carolina, then
graduated from the Senate Page School as salutatorian and student body
president. McCurry later became the second youngest graduate of the University
of North Carolina School of Law.
Early in his career, he
served as general counsel of the prestigious Jacksonville firm of Stockton,
Whatley, Davin & Company. He continued to practice law and develop real
estate in the Jacksonville area until his death in 2004. The foundation,
started in 1994, offered scholarships in several counties in Northeast Florida
and Southeast Georgia.
“He wanted to give back to
the communities that helped him develop his success,” said Pam Stefansen, who
began working for him in 1977 and later became the foundation’s director and
Laura Rodriguez is among
the first five McCurry Scholars at UNF selected for the fall semester. She and
her parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba through the visa lottery
when Rodriguez was about a year old. They started out living in Miami but soon
moved to Jacksonville.
A graduate of Stanton
College Preparatory School, Rodriguez is majoring in international studies with a concentration in Latin America. As is required of
McCurry Scholars, she is working part time to help pay for her education.
Rodriguez enjoyed meeting
Wood McCurry at a reception for the scholars. “It was interesting to hear what
the scholarship means to him,” she said.
What it means to Rodriguez
is simple. “Without it, I couldn’t go to school,” she said.
Because of a determined
and generous man born more than a half a century before her, Rodriguez and many
others have a path to a college degree.