SYLVA – Roughly a decade ago, Mike Wade heard a quote from successful industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie: “I spent the first half of my life making money, and the second half of my life giving it away to do the most good and the least harm.”
In that moment, Wade made a commitment to try and follow Carnegie’s example.
“When I first heard those words, I wasn’t in a position to do it yet,” Wade recalled last week. “But I can now, and I want to do what I have a passion for – and that’s helping people.”
Guided by that desire, Wade recently put the wheels in motion to create a $500,000 scholarship endowment at Southwestern Community College – the single-largest cash commitment in the SCC Foundation’s 50-year history.
The gift will be used to provide a ‘hand-up’ to SCC students who demonstrate financial need, hold and maintain a Grade Point Average of 3.0 or better – with preference given to individuals who’ve graduated from or are participating in Circles of Hope of Jackson County.
“Other than food and water, I feel like education is just about the most important thing you can have in your life,” Wade said. “Community colleges allow students to get an education at such a reasonable price, and Southwestern is one of the best in the country. That’s one reason I feel so good about setting up this endowment.
“I’ve come to realize I don’t need more possessions,” he continued. “I don’t need another house; I don’t need another vehicle. I get a lot more enjoyment watching someone succeed and knowing that I helped in some small way.”
By setting up the “Gale Lee Wade, William Edwin Roosenberg and Larry Stanberry Endowed Scholarship Fund,” Mike Wade is honoring three men who deeply influenced his own life.
Gale Lee Wade was Mike’s father, and local businessmen Roosenberg and Stanberry helped get Mike Wade started in the insurance field.
“My dad was hard working and honest in all his dealings,” Mike Wade said. “Mr. Roosenberg was relentless in his approach to work. I used to travel with him, and I noticed he did two things every night. No matter how bad his day was, he would call his wife and was always so pleasant with her. Then he got down on his knees and prayed.
“And Mr. Stanberry was a local done good,” Wade continued. “He outworked ‘em all. He arrived at work at 5 o’clock every morning. He used to tell me how his competitors showed up at work at 9 a.m. to make their coffee, and he said, ‘I’ve already got four hours on them.”
Helping to streamline the process of setting up the scholarship fund was an already strong relationship he’d developed with a couple of fellow Rotarians: Dr. Don Tomas, SCC’s President, and Brett Woods, Director of the SCC Foundation.
“They are two of the main reasons I’m doing this,” Wade said. “They’re very active in the community, and I’ve gotten to know them both very well.”
The first scholarship will be awarded next fall, and Wade expressed a desire to meet the recipient in person for the purposes of providing encouragement.
“Mike Wade has a huge heart for helping others, and he recognizes how an education from SCC can change someone’s life,” Dr. Tomas said. “On behalf of our current and future students who will receive a hand up from this fund, we are deeply grateful to Mike.”
For more information about the SCC Foundation and the various ways it supports students, contact Woods at 828.339.4241 or b_woods@SouthwesternCC.edu.