Famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “You can’t have a perfect day without helping others with no thought of getting something in return,” and in another inspirational quote stated, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
For Dr. Patricia Turner, the Senior Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at UCLA, an accomplished author and professor in World Arts and Cultures and African-American Studies at the venerable university, and an avid basketball fan, Coach Wooden’s wise words sum up what makes the Sag Harbor Lion’s Club commitment to supporting the collegiate dreams of Pierson High School graduates so important.
Dr. Turner, a Sag Harbor native and graduate of Pierson High School, was one of three dozen residents, business owners and Lion’s Club members gathered last Thursday at The American Hotel on Main Street to celebrate the Club’s first successful scholarship fund initiative as it continues to fundraise for a second year.
In late 2018, the Sag Harbor Lion’s Club, led by President Tony Lawless, Paul Zaykowski, and Mark and Jim Poitras, spearheaded an effort to raise $40,000 annually to support three college-bound Pierson graduates with one $20,000 scholarship and two $10,000 scholarships, paid directly to their undergraduate universities.
Prior to 2019, the Club offered one $5,000 scholarship.
The 2019 recipients, chosen from a field of 27 applicants, were Paige Schaefer, who will get a $20,000 stipend toward her tuition at Lehigh University; and Ella Knibb and Emily Hallock, who each will receive a $10,000 for their tuition at Cornell and Duke, respectively.
“Our mission is really simple — we want to raise money every year for three deserving students to help them and help their families,” said Mr. Zaykowski last Thursday, noting the scholarship winners are chosen solely based on merit with 100 percent of donations sent into the scholarships set aside in a dedicated fund by the Lions.
“Because we have low expenses, basically 100 percent of each dollar goes to the fund, so you should feel really good as to where you money is going,” he said.
Dr. Turner credits much of her success to her family, to educators in Sag Harbor and to a community at large that supported her along the way.
“I am Lloyd and Sally Turner’s daughter from Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton and I didn’t have any education between the ages of five and 18 that wasn’t at Pierson,” said Dr. Turner. “Everything I have been able to do is grounded in the school on the hill. It is where I learned to read, that is where I learned to write, that is where I learned numeracy, that is where I learned everything it took for everything that has come after for me.”
“And what is terrific about Sag Harbor and Pierson is it is not just the school — it is a partnership with our families, our community, our places of worship,” she said. “It is the whole picture that takes care of the students from Sag Harbor … the whole community invests in the young people from Sag Harbor and that is really special and something we have to be proud of.”
With students from UCLA carrying an average debt of $22,000 after graduating college and the national average almost twice that at $43,000, the support of organizations like the Lion’s Club, said Dr. Turner, is critical, and quoted Coach Wooden.
“And I think that is what this scholarship is all about and what the Lions Club is all about,” she said.
To learn more about the scholarship program or to donate, visit e-clubhouse.org/sites/sagharbor.