Future St. Clair County Community College students will benefit from a new endowment fund held at the Community Foundation thanks to a gift from Robert G. Sargent, Ph.D., an SC4 alumnus and professor emeritus at Syracuse University, to provide two scholarships each year to students who plan to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
“I attended SC4 in 1954 through 56 when it was Port Huron Junior College,” Sargent said. “I came from a working-class family and didn’t have any money to pursue an education at a university. I had decided to obtain a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering because I enjoyed math and science in high school and had received several awards for my electrical projects in 4-H. Port Huron Junior College provided the opportunity I needed to get an outstanding education for the first two years of pursuing my engineering degree.”
Sargent is now known as a world-renowned pioneer and authority in simulation work, receiving many career awards and presenting at lectures in the United States and around the world.
He, along with his 1950’s SC4-to-U-M engineering alumni peers, recently visited SC4 and took a campus tour with Bonnie DiNardo, SC4 executive director of community and public relations.
“We hadn’t been to the college in years and were very impressed by the size of the campus and the technology being used, especially in STEM-based facilities such as the Health Sciences Building, the Experience Center and the Challenger Learning Center,” Sargent said.
He added, “None of us probably would have gone to college without SC4. There are endless possibilities in STEM careers—especially in engineering fields—and a tremendous need. People can have a great life, income and support. Community colleges like SC4 can continue to play a huge role, and scholarships can help students pursue such fields for years to come.”
Sargent has established The Robert G. Sargent Scholarship Fund through the SC4 Foundation held at the Community Foundation that helps SC4 engineering students with financial need who plan to transfer on to a university to further pursue their engineering education.
“Helping such a distinguished alumni, like Dr. Sargent, plan a major gift to the college was a pleasure. He knew exactly what he wanted to do for the students and I was happy to help him finalize a qualified charitable distribution that meant his gift was not only very meaningful and impactful but provided a tax savings for him as well,” said Jackie Hanton, Vice President for the Community Foundation of St. Clair County.
Sargent graduated from St. Clair High School after attending a one-room schoolhouse located in St. Clair Township where he was the only pupil in some of his grades. He was the first in his family to attend college.
While a student at SC4, Sargent participated on the tennis team, in Circle K, bowling and with the Letterman’s club—and worked multiple jobs to pay his college tuition. He also connected with a large group of about 12 like-minded students with whom he’d stay in touch throughout his lifetime.
Sargent earned an Associate of Science degree from SC4 before transferring to the University of Michigan where he roomed with fellow SC4 alumni. “All of us who went on from SC4 to U-M together were well prepared,” said Sargent, who continued to juggle jobs while a full-time U-M student.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Sargent accepted a position at Hughes Aircraft where he received his first exposure to digital computers. He returned to school after two and a half years in the industry to pursue a Ph.D. in simulation.
After receiving his doctoral degree, Sargent joined Syracuse University to participate in their new Systems and Information Science graduate program. Shortly after his arrival, Sargent became involved in contractual research between the United States Air Force and Syracuse University. His work in simulation was sponsored by both institutions, creating an environment and relationship in which he could foster significant contributions to the field throughout his career.
“We thank Dr. Sargent for his generous gift to help SC4 students and for his continued advocacy of community college pathways for transfer students and degrees,” said Dr. Deborah Snyder, SC4 president. “SC4 alumni such as Dr. Sargent are doing remarkable work. His distinguished career in simulation has impacted countless individuals, here in Michigan and around the world.”
SC4 students can apply for the Sargent scholarships for engineers beginning in 2023. Selection will be based on financial need with a preference for students transferring to a university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
The SC4 Foundation connects donors with opportunities to support St. Clair County Community College in whatever way fits their interests. Whether it’s supporting students, opportunities on campus or enhancements of learning spaces, the SC4 Foundation is proud to support our community’s college.
St. Clair County Community College and the Community Foundation bring to the area a combined 175 years of service to the community in education and philanthropy. Since 2018, the collaborative philanthropic partnership between the organizations allows donors to have an even greater impact on both SC4 students and the community.