Connecticut College holds special significance for Pat and John Koskinen for a number of reasons. Pat shares the one perhaps closest to their hearts. “I had been at Oberlin when John, who was at Yale Law School, and I wanted to get married. Conn accepted me after my attendance at another college for two and a half years which was very kind of them. I was different from most of the students and yet they embraced me as I was, not trying to change me into anything. That’s a wonderful thing to know about a college–that they can make room for you as you try and make your way and do different things.”
The summer after her junior year, during which Pat lived on campus, she and John were married. During her senior year, they lived in New Haven and Pat commuted to campus. Pat flourished during her time at Conn. “I had the pleasure of working with Dr. Desiderato in the Psychology Department, and he was just so giving and interested in what I was doing, and that made it possible for us to work together. I wound up doing a research project with him, which we published. I was the first author! He was so willing to encourage me and to share his experience. I don’t think I would have started publishing at all if not for his help. So that was really a brand new experience for me, and I went on to publish many more papers and studies as I became known for my research on teaching teachers how to teach reading.”
John agrees, “The intellectual atmosphere at CC was terrific. Pat had always been a good student but she became a very good student at Connecticut. Her work there turned out to be the basis and the background for her attaining her Ph.D. and becoming a college professor. The College was pivotal to Pat’s career and development so we’ve always had a very big fond spot in our hearts for CC.”
The Koskinens’ belief in the value of a Conn education and their commitment to student access led them to establish an endowed scholarship. When they learned about the Hale Scholarship Initiative, they were eager to participate. “I went to college and law school on scholarships, so I know the impact financial support can have on a student who might not otherwise be able to have the opportunity to attend college. We’ve been delighted to endow our scholarship and have the opportunity to significantly expand it thanks to the Hale match. It was just too good an opportunity to pass up,” said John.
John continues, “And the Hale Initiative is a wonderful contribution they’ve made to encourage the rest of us to think bigger than we might have otherwise to meet the challenge, take advantage of it and join them in supporting students today and, most importantly, the students of the future. The cost of higher education continues to go up, and so the challenge for all of us is to try and do whatever we can to ensure that a wide range of potential students has the opportunity to take advantage of a great college like CC.”
“I think it’s incredibly selfless and generous to not only to give yourself, but to try to include others as Rob Hale has,” shares Pat.
An aspect of establishing an endowed scholarship that the Koskinens particularly value is hearing from students. “I think it’s terrific the way Conn facilitates students’ communications with the donor, and I have thoroughly enjoyed that,” says Pat. “We’re excited that the students are at CC and we very much want them to be able to try new things because that’s what college is all about. We are always happy to hear what they’re doing and pleased that they’re at Conn College because there are so many opportunities that they’ll have there, and hopefully are having right now.”
John adds, “We hope that they’ll chart their own paths and follow their hearts. This increases the likelihood of them pursuing what they really enjoy and making a contribution in their own fields. Over time, you hope, as they become successful, they’ll pay it forward, as they say, by themselves supporting future students with financial aid.”
John concludes, “We’re delighted to have been able to meet this challenge, and we hope that others will join in because it’s a great opportunity and a great cause. It’s true that part of the benefit of giving is the joy it gives you–the satisfaction of feeling that you are helping others, not only now but in the future, so they have the same opportunity that you were able to have.”
Pat agrees, “The opportunity is here. When the opportunity comes, you’ve got to grab it because you never know what’s going to happen in the future.”