Browning Memorial Scholarship Makes a College Education Possible for Deserving Students at SHU
Jorge Rivera grew up in an inner-city single-parent household and knew his mother could not afford to send him to college.
Rivera enrolled at Sacred Heart University in 1992 hoping he could work toward a political science degree while working at a local grocery store to pay for tuition. His work ethic and financial struggles did not go unnoticed. School officials brought Rivera’s financial need and diligence to the attention of Jim Browning, founder of the Browning Memorial Scholarship.
The organization provides encouragement and financial assistance to deserving and qualified hardship students like the young woman whose parents both died within months of each other or the student whose father lost his job and could no longer afford to pay for his son’s education. Both considered dropping out before receiving assistance from the Browning Memorial Scholarship.
Browning started the scholarship in 1987 in honor of his brother Scott Browning who had died several months earlier. “Unfortunately and tragically, I lost my brother and my best friend almost 24 years ago. He was 21 years old and had a world of success ahead of him. I had this burning desire to keep his memory alive so I started this scholarship in his name,” Jim Browning said.
“My initial and myopic objective for this was just to keep my brother’s memory alive, but it’s grown into much more than that,” Browning said. In the last 23 years, the Browning Memorial Scholarship has raised $580,000 for its endowment and awarded 74 scholarships distributing to students more than $180,000. Rivera said the unsolicited scholarship he received from the Browning family propelled him toward graduation and a successful career.
“It was incredible. I grew up on the other side of the tracks in Bridgeport. I was working part time at Stop & Shop in Fairfield in the produce department. Maybe I made five or six dollars an hour, if that. It was difficult as a 19-year-old to put myself through school. That scholarship is what really got me going,” said Rivera, who graduated summa cum laude from SHU in 1996. “I made the most of the opportunity,” said Rivera, who now works as a mortgage banker for William Raveis Mortgage Services.
“Every story of every scholarship recipient is incredible. Most are students who might not have been able to continue their education if not for the Browning family,” said Lance Scott, a friend of Scott Browning. “Jimmy turned his grief into passion to help others and into an enduring scholarship program. All of this takes a tremendous amount of energy and organization. I’m honored to be a small part of it,” Scott said.
“It’s almost magical, what’s happened,” said Browning. To this day, many of Scott Browning’s friends come to the Browning Memorial Scholarship’s annual fund-raising events. Browning works on the fund-raisers year round to get corporate sponsorships and other support. He has held basketball camps, dinner dances and golf tournaments. Last April’s "March Madness" Dinner & Raffle, which was tied to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four and held at the SHU Pitt Center, was so successful–it raised $24,000–that Browning will repeat it on April 2, 2011.
This year’s recipients of the Browning Memorial Scholarship will be announced this fall.
Those interested in sponsoring the event can send donations to: Browning Scholarship c/o Jim Browning, 38 Old Elm Road, Trumbull, CT 06611.