UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students in two Penn State colleges and children fighting pediatric cancer stand to benefit from the generosity of alumna Cheryl Smith Hay, of Barrington, New Hampshire, who has pledged part of her future estate to support scholarships and the IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon.
Hay, who graduated from Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences with a master's degree in extension education, made a provision in her estate plan that could provide funds exceeding $166,000 to support designated Penn State programs.
Hay's bequest would divide the funds as follows:
- The first $50,000 would create the endowed Gordon J. Hay Jr. '78 and Cheryl Smith Hay '77 Scholarship in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education. This scholarship would support graduate students enrolled in a degree program offered by the department. Currently, those graduate programs include Agricultural and Extension Education; Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Economics; Applied Youth, Family, and Community Education; Community and Economic Development; and Rural Sociology.
- The next $50,000 would establish the endowed Gordon J. Hay Jr. '78 and Cheryl Smith Hay '77 Scholarship in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. Consideration for this scholarship would go to undergraduate students majoring in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management in the College of Health and Human Development.
- The next $50,000 would establish an endowed program support fund known as the Gordon J. Hay Jr. '78 and Cheryl Smith Hay '77 Endowment for the Penn State Dance Marathon. Proceeds from the endowment would be used to help defray the annual operating costs associated with THON, which raises funds for the fight against pediatric cancer.
Any funds Penn State receives from Hay's estate in excess of $150,000 would be divided equally among these three endowments.
Cheryl Hay received a bachelor's degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College before earning her Penn State master's degree in 1977. She later earned a second master's degree from Western Illinois University. She is a middle school family and consumer sciences teacher for the Timberlane Regional School District in Plaistow, New Hampshire.
Her late husband, Gordon, received a bachelor's degree in recreation and parks from Penn State in 1978 and a master's degree from Western Illinois University in 1982. He spent several years serving in various capacities for regional councils of the Girl Scouts of America and later was a self-employed entrepreneur and consultant before he died in an auto accident in 1996.
A cancer patient for six years, he saw firsthand the challenges faced by children fighting the disease in the pediatric cancer wards of hospitals, sparking his interest in and admiration for the students participating in THON. Begun in 1973, the annual event since 1977 has raised more than $114 million to benefit the Four Diamonds Fund, which supports pediatric cancer research and helps the families of young cancer patients with treatment-related expenses.
Hay's bequest helped the College of Agricultural Sciences to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students, which ended June 30 after raising a total of $2.188 billion for Penn State students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This University-wide effort was directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The campaign's top priority was keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families.