Vision and leadership bring exceptional Wyoming residents to MSU
July 16, 2009
When three advocates for MSU combined their passions—one a skilled administrator and the others motivated donors—they became champions of something life-changing for some remarkable MSU students.
Since 1998, the STARR Charitable Foundation Scholarship program has provided a one-of-a-kind opportunity for students residing in the state of Wyoming to attend Michigan State University for four years with all regular costs covered. To qualify for the scholarship, students must display academic achievement with at least a 3.0 grade point average; however, the demonstration of distinguished personal character and leadership ability is paramount. The donors, who wish to remain anonymous, turned to a trusted source for guidance in this ambitious and unique endeavor. They tapped Jack Shingleton who they fondly remembered from his days as MSU’s head of Placement Services, where he had lent a hand to them with some career placement needs many years prior. Jack has been integral in establishing the scholarship program for the donors, including his hands-on involvement in reviewing applications, interviewing candidates, maintaining communication with the donors, and mentoring the scholarship recipients throughout their time at MSU. Jack is quick to share credit with his longtime partner Chuck Webb, the former vice president for University Development at MSU, for establishing the program.
The donors were compelled to share all that they had gained from their MSU experiences with young people from another region. As Jack explained it, “They looked out in their home state of Wyoming and saw outstanding kids in very rural communities whose horizons were limited by family resources. They wanted to present an opportunity that is second-to-none for these kids to see the other side of the world.” For Jack’s part, the past 12 years of volunteer service to help create and nurture the program have been nothing less than a labor of love. “It has truly been one of the greatest joys of my life,” he said.
Recently, Jack reluctantly decided it was time for him to retire from his leadership role. “The STARR Charitable Foundation Scholarship that Jack Shingleton so expertly helped develop stands solidly and serves as a model of excellence for others wishing to establish similar scholarship awards,” said Bob Groves, MSU’s vice president for University Advancement. “We have been extremely fortunate to have Jack’s advocacy and experience in this program. His direct involvement will be missed but his legacy will endure.”
The 45 past and current scholarship beneficiaries couldn’t agree more. Upon learning of his retirement from the program, they wrote letters to express their appreciation for Jack’s important role in their lives. Many wrote of his compassion and kindness, noting that his belief in them encouraged them “to stretch themselves,” a playful admonishment Jack is well known for delivering to the scholars. Some notable examples of how STARR scholars have indeed stretched themselves include a young woman who made the crew team and became MSU’s first All-American woman in crew, another who landed a position in the tuba line of the MSU Marching Band as a 5-foot tall freshman, and others who have secured coveted spots in advanced MSU programs overseas.
At a recent gathering of current STARR Scholars, Ya Wen, a junior from Casper, majoring in Physiology in Lyman Briggs College, recalled Jack telling her that “the greatest thing you have to give in this world is yourself.” His words helped propel her to became an active and regular volunteer in the Emergency Room at Ingham Regional Medical Center. Many spoke of his passion for MSU and his nonstop upbeat attitude. STARR Scholar Jay Shah, a pre-medicine sophomore from Casper sporting an MSU shirt Jack gave him at their first meeting, said “There is no doubt that Jack Shingleton is the key person who convinced me that MSU was the one school I should choose.” Fellow scholar Megan Gebhart, a junior from Gillette, majoring in Marketing, said “Jack Shingleton is my Michigan State Grandpa,” noting that his ability to instill pride not only in what the scholars are today but confidence in what they are yet to become is a powerful send-off.
In Jack’s long career with MSU, he was not only a nationally recognized leader in career services but also a respected overseer whose skills were called upon in a wide range of key trouble-shooting interim assignments, including one stint as the acting athletics director. Early in his retirement, he was elected to the MSU Board of Trustees. Yet, he still counts his involvement with the STARR scholars as a highlight.
“To be able to do this in the twilight of my years here has been extraordinary,” he said.
For information about creating a scholarship, contact the Office of University Scholarships and Fellowships at (517) 432-7332.