Scholarships: Changing the Path for Future Generations

For some students, a college education isn’t always certain. Growing up in a single-parent household, Jesus Garcia faced that reality. Now he will be the first person in his family to attend college.

“My mom would always tell me to work hard in school and make good grades so that I could go to college,” explained Jesus.

A 2016 graduate of Crooked Oak High School in Oklahoma City, Jesus received a Community Foundation Scholar award from the Oklahoma City Community Foundation and plans to attend the University of Central Oklahoma in the fall. While he is excited about his future, he may not yet fully comprehend the life-changing opportunity he has earned. An opportunity that Dilip Patel and his wife, Vibha, understand all too well.

Students like Jesus are able to receive scholarships through the Oklahoma City Community Foundation because of generous donors like the Patels. Since 2010, the Patels have been making gifts to support the Community Foundation Scholars program. These scholarships are designed to reward good students who are active in their community, but may not qualify for the most competitive academic scholarships. In addition, these awards benefit students who will be the first in their family to attend college, like Jesus.

Growing up in India, Dilip witnessed firsthand how being the first person in your family to attend college can have a significant impact on future generations. Dilip’s grandfather was a farmer who worked hard to provide for his family despite only having attended school through the third grade. Back then, Dilip says, education wasn’t a priority, and children were expected to work on the farm.

But Dilip’s grandfather had his own priorities for his children. He was determined to provide them with the educational opportunities he never had, and Dilip’s father went on to graduate from medical school. However, his uncle stayed home and worked on the family farm.

“I experienced the difference that education made in my own family by witnessing how my uncle struggled,” Dilip said. “I learned then that education is the best gift you can give someone.”

Dilip came to the United States in 1966 to attend Washington State University, where he earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. Vibha has a Ph.D. in mathematics. Dilip says their parents instilled in them the importance of a good education and hard work, and they, in turn, wanted to share this opportunity with others.

After Dilip retired from Seagate in 2000 as a senior vice president, he and Vibha were looking for a way to help support students when they connected with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation. By making annual gifts to our Trustee Scholarship Initiative, the Patels are able to provide college scholarships for two graduating high school seniors each year, one of whom will be the first in their family to attend college. Just like the gift Dilip’s grandfather gave his own father years ago, Dilip and Vibha are giving students like Jesus an opportunity to transform their lives and change the path of future generations.

To learn more about supporting scholarships at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, please contact Megan Hornbeek Allen at 405/606-2917.