Investing in people, investing in the future

Feb 29, 2016 by

In 2016, a permanent Endowment Wall of Honor will be installed in the lobby of the Robert M. Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center at TJC. Over time, it is hoped the entire wall will be filled with names of those honored with endowments supporting students and health care programs at the college.

Names are emphasized within the lobby display according to level of endowment gift, beginning at $10,000.

“It’s a wonderful tribute to the donors and their love for higher education,” said D.M. Edwards, who established the Davida M. Edwards Nursing Scholarship Endowment in memory of his mother. He also gave to name the department chair’s office for the associate degree of nursing program.

Endowments that support the Rogers center provide ongoing funding to address the needs of the college’s burgeoning health care programs.

Davida M. Edwards

Davida M. Edwards

Endowed funds are invested within the overall endowment of the Tyler Junior College Foundation, which has surpassed $42 million in assets. It contains individual funds that provide yearly monies to support TJC scholarships and programs as specified by contributors. The earnings are distributed annually for each endowed fund based on the spending policy of the TJC Foundation The principal of each  fund is invested in perpetuity, meaning that the principal is never spent.

“The TJC Foundation handles funds wisely,” Edwards said. “A fully funded endowment is the ‘gift that keeps
on giving.’”

Behind every endowment is a story of love, generosity and hope. Here are three inspiring stories from the wall.

Davida M. Edwards Nursing Scholarship Endowment

Davida Edwards was a native Texan, devoted wife and mother, and longtime church leader in Houston and Tyler. She was also vice president of Edwards and Associates with her husband, Welby C. Edwards, as well as other business ventures. She supervised the work of public schools in a 14-county region for the Texas Education Association. When Dr. Harry Jenkins, then president of TJC, wanted to establish the East Texas School of Nursing, he called on Mrs. Edwards for help. She recruited the first class of students, and her legacy lives on in TJC’s nursing program today.

The scholarship in Davida’s name will benefit students in TJC’s associate degree in nursing program. Recipients will be graduates from a high school in Smith County who are exceptionally well-rounded students. Equal consideration will be given to academic achievement, community involvement and financial need.

“Attending TJC first was a great choice for my father, and it was a great decision for me, too,” said Edwards. “We both received excellent preparation for advanced collegiate studies and success in business. Now I’m honored to be able to contribute to TJC’s programs and initiatives.”

Dr. Sherilyn and Patrick Willis Scholarship Endowment for Nursing and Health Sciences

This endowment was funded by
Barbara Shtofman in memory of her late husband, Norman, because of his passion for education.

“Sherilyn and Patrick were very special to Norman, as they are to me. I know he would be thrilled having this scholarship named for them,” she said. She has also given a gift to name a student conference and group study room within the facility to honor her late husband. Norman was a well-respected community leader in Tyler and served as mayor from 1982 to ’84.

The Willises met at TJC and served in
the student senate together. Sherilyn went on to Texas A&M for undergraduate and then medical school. She is a successful practicing obstetrician and gynecologist and is partner/owner of Four Seasons Women’s Health Clinic in Tyler. After completing his studies at TJC, Patrick went to UT Tyler and earned a degree in communications and public relations. He is president and CEO of Abegg Willis & Associates, a non-profit consulting firm.

Both are widely known for their volunteer service and their generous support of many worthy causes in Tyler. Patrick’s community work was

Dr. Sherilyn and Patrick Willis

Dr. Sherilyn and Patrick Willis

recognized when he received the 2014 W.C. Windsor Award, which honors an outstanding Tyler citizen under age 40.

“They are both very successful in
their professions and generously contribute with their philanthropy, time and talents for the greater good of our community,” Shtofman said.

“I was awarded the Robert M. Rogers Presidential Scholarship,” said Sherilyn, “and their belief in me meant so much!” The Willis scholarship will benefit well-rounded students participating in TJC nursing or other health sciences programs, and who have excelled academically and exhibit high moral character.

“Over the years we have witnessed and heard so many success stories coming from people who got their educational start at TJC,” Shtofman said. “They are people who are making a difference across the U.S. and globally. Norman always said, ‘When you invest in people, you invest in the future.’ Ultimately, investing in people is the compass for our future.”

Dr. Ben and Maytee Fisch Nursing Scholarship Endowment

Ben and Maytee Fisch met at UT Austin where they studied pharmacology together, before Ben went on to the Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, got his degree and founded the Allergy Clinic in Tyler in 1960. They were members of many civic organizations and worked diligently to improve the lives of others.

The Fisches would eventually establish their own family foundation, which broadly benefits educational institutions and non-profit organizations throughout Tyler and East Texas. They were awarded the Patriot of the Year award from UT Tyler in 2002. Ben was also recognized with the Golden Cane award from the Tyler Medical Society for his 25 years of dedicated practice.

This endowment was established through the Gatewood-Hawkins Foundation by Virginia Gatewood. The Gatewoods have generously supported TJC and its students and have funded 63 annual scholarships and nine scholarship endowments.

For the past several years, the Gatewood-Hawkins Foundation has funded TJC endowed scholarships to honor legacy leaders of the community. “Ben and Maytee were such giving people,” said Virginia Gatewood, “and Ben was widely respected by patients and doctors in Tyler. It is rewarding that Jim and I can honor Ben and Maytee while providing scholarships to aspiring healthcare workers.”

Dr. Ben and Maytee Fisch

Dr. Ben and Maytee Fisch

The Fisch scholarship will support deserving students participating in TJC’s associate degree nursing program. 

Endowments provide a way to extend the legacy of a friend or loved one and ensure the future of TJC students, programs and the community in perpetuity.  For more information, please contact Mitch Andrews at 903-510-2034, or



News, Winter 2016

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