In 2002, I launched the Dr. Howard Lonsdale Scholarship in Vallejo, my home town. I awarded two $10,000 scholarships to public school kids in my hometown. Dr. Lonsdale was my mentor; he guided to and got me in Princeton. And of course going to Princeton changed my life, or rather directed my life.
Lonsdale himself was a Princeton graduate and was in charge of recruitment for Princeton in the East Bay of California. He spotted me my sophomore year at Vallejo High when I interviewed for the Key Club; he was the ad visor.
I remember like it was yesterday. He pulled me aside and, in the syrupy Arkansas twang said, "You should go to Princeton. That's where I went. It's the greatest." Now understand, I had no point of reference about eastern elite education whatsoever. My plan was to attend Stanford where my sister was enrolled. So, I nodded to him, but ignored him.
He never stopped bothering me about Princeton. There's never been a more effective salesman for the university.
Dr. Lonsdale even came to my house to pitch my mother. He didn't realize my mother left the decision entirely up to me. I chose... Stanford! I went to freshman orientation at the Farm. But after a weekend of being "managed" by sister, it was "Hello, Princeton." And that decision opened up a world for me. Princeton really is the greatest place on Earth.
So, to honor my friend I started the scholarship. The kids that win use it bridge the gap for the state schools that they attend, e.g. Cal, UC San Diego, UCLA. This scholarship is my proudest achievement. To see these kids graduate and progress to wonderful grad schools and careers has just be a joy.
Thanks to Dr. Lonsdale who made such a difference in my life. Now I'm getting his daughter ready to attend Princeton. Then, the circle will be complete.