Meet Sharon Johnson, a dedicated member of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program staff for more than 17 years. Now retired, Sharon has chosen to continue to support UMBC with a planned gift that will focus on the program and students she loves so dearly. Thanks for sharing your story, Sharon…take it away!
Q: What brought you to UMBC in the first place?
A: I was hired as the business manager for the Meyerhoff Scholars Program after previously working at NASA. Many of my colleagues at NASA thought this would be a good fit for me and my skillset, and encouraged me to apply. I was very interested in diversity and the STEM pipeline and wanted to work with gifted and talented students.
Q: What was it like working with the Meyerhoff Program for so long?
A: I loved working with the Meyerhoff students, alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and UMBC colleagues and administrators. Meyerhoff staff members were committed and dedicated as we carried out our duties, and guided and inspired scholars. We worked closely together and I enjoyed our cameraderie. It was wonderful to see the scholars grow and achieve their aspirations. The relationships continued after graduation from UMBC. I was a part of something truly special that was changing the world!I made many friends with whom I am still in contact.
Q: Tell us about someone who really made a difference in your life while you were at UMBC.
A: I’d like to mention two people. [President Emeritus] Dr. [Freeman] Hrabowski supported me and the Meyerhoff Scholars program. He co-founded an awesome program that has been replicated across the country, and he inspired me and other donors to financially support UMBC.
And LaMont Toliver, former Program Director and my supervisor, was dedicated to the program. His belief in the model, program, and students inspired me. Working for the program was a life-changing opportunity.
I thought back to my undergraduate years and I felt compelled to help provide funding to scholars experiencing financial hardships and to impact future generations of Meyerhoff scholars. My hope is that I will be able to help future scholars achieve their academic goals and dreams.
Q: You recently decided to make a planned gift in support of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. What motivated you to do that?
A: I experienced financial hardships and challenges firsthand during my childhood and in completing my bachelor’s degree. I believe in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program’s vision and mission and am proud of the program’s success. Many scholars had shortfalls between their expenses and aid/scholarships and were seeking other funding sources to close their gaps. Many also faced personal/family circumstances that kept them from graduating on schedule and achieving their academic dreams. I thought back to my undergraduate years and I felt compelled to help provide funding to scholars experiencing financial hardships and to impact future generations of Meyerhoff Scholars. My hope is that I will be able to help future scholars achieve their academic goals and dreams.
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UMBC’s greatest strength is its people. When people meet Retrievers and hear about the passion they bring, the relationships they create, the ways they support each other, and the commitment they have to inclusive excellence, they truly get a sense of our community. That’s what “Meet a Retriever” is all about.