Paying it forward

NMSU faculty, staff establish scholarships to help the next generation

By Jane Moorman

There are personal reasons why a scholarship is established. It is a sacred gift. An act of giving with no expectation of receiving anything in return except the personal knowledge of the good that has been done.

Many NMSU faculty and staff have established scholarship funds to help students during their academic pursuits. 

For Ryan Goss and Gena Jones ’81, establishing scholarships, which help the future generation to pursue their dreams, is a way to show their gratitude for the encouragement they received.

Goss experienced the benefit of the ultimate sacred gift – the donation of an organ from a total stranger. 

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences associate professor of turfgrass management was unable to thank the family of the deceased donor for the gift of a kidney in 2011, which has prolonged his life. 

“I had a little guilt with that fact,” Goss says. “I was looking for ways to give back. I thought there was no better way than to start a scholarship at NMSU. This scholarship is honoring those who donated major organs to me and others.”

In 2012, Goss and his former wife, Diana, established the Aggie Organ Donor Endowed Scholarship to support students who are waiting for an organ transplant or have a family member who has donated a major organ.

“My wife, Dana Hubbard, and my family have been very supportive of this endowment,” Goss says. “We have already awarded several scholarships.”

There are dozens of students on campus who are eligible for the scholarship, according to Goss.

“Having a major organ transplant is very expensive,” Goss says. “Prior to receiving one, the patient must go through a week of medical tests to prepare for a good match. This could mean staying in the city where the medical center is located. And if they receive one, it takes six weeks of daily tests to determine the level of anti-rejection drugs that are needed.”

Those costs have an impact on the finances of the recipient and their family, which could prevent them from pursuing a college education.

“I want to encourage these students to pursue their career dream despite what they are going through medically,” Goss says.

Jones knows the importance of the encouragement she received while attending NMSU and majoring in social work. 

“My family was encouraging and supportive,” says Jones, NMSU’s assistant vice president for human resource services and a first-generation college student. “Especially my older siblings, one of whom finished his degree after I graduated.”

She is passing that encouragement on to the next generation of social workers. 

“The field of social work has a special place in my heart,” Jones says. “I think it is absolutely crucial that we continue to support this unrecognized field that has such a huge impact on our societal environment.” 

Because of her deep respect and compassion for the field of social work, Jones established the Gena W. Jones Current Use Scholarship in 2018 for social work students. It has already provided assistance for three social work students.

“Social workers are exceptional people,” she says. “They deal with people and situations associated with social issues that impact the world. I want to support those special people.”

Social work students face entering a career that is not a high paying profession but one that can be personally and professionally rewarding. 

“While in school you don’t want to build up a lot of loan debt,” Jones says. “Hopefully, this scholarship will help them to keep that debt down.”

NMSU Associate Professor Ryan Goss, left, established the Aggie Organ Donor Endowed Scholarship to support students who are waiting for an organ transplant or have a family member who has donated a major organ. In 2011, Goss received a kidney from a deceased organ donor but was unable to thank the family for the donation. Pictured with Goss is his wife, Dana Hubbard.

NMSU Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Services Gena Jones established the Gena W. Jones Current Use Scholarship in 2018 for NMSU social work students. Jones majored in social work at NMSU and was a first-generation college student. The scholarship has already provided assistance for three social work students.