Gray family helps make Penn State education possible for future students

Graduating from college is undoubtedly a gift-giving occasion. Whether you’re 21 or 51, it’s the culmination of years of hard work and the beginning of new adventures. Many students, however, leave college with more than a diploma and happy memories — they also are saddled with debt. That’s why Jean Mitchell Gray, a 2013 bachelor of art and advertising graduate, accepted a rather unique gift from her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Gray, upon her May 2013 graduation—a Trustee Scholarship in her name, to help future students attain a Penn State College of Arts and Architecture education.

“Our daughter Jean wanted to establish a scholarship for families in need. Some students are paying back their loans for 20 years,” said her dad John, president and CEO of the Healthcare Management Distribution Association (HDMA). “People don’t realize how important scholarship money is for some students, and scholarships go a long way in recruiting.”

The Trustee Matching Scholarship Program maximizes the impact of private giving while directing funds to students as quickly as possible, meeting the urgent need for scholarship support. For Trustee Scholarships created through the end of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students on June 30, 2014, Penn State will provide an annual 10 percent match of the total pledge or gift. This level is an increase from the program’s original match of 5 percent, and it is available only for new endowments of $50,000 or more. The University match, which is approximately double the endowment’s annual spendable income, continues in perpetuity, multiplying the support available for students with financial need.

The Grays previously established the Gray Family Trustee Scholarship in the College of Arts and Architecture. While neither parent is a Penn State alum, John said Jean immediately fell in love with the University Park campus during her first visit, when she was deciding what college to attend. “Penn State had the ‘feel’ of a small campus and close-knit community,” he said. “We are delighted to support Penn State.”

Jean pursued dual majors in art and advertising, and also studied graphic design. Immediately after graduation, she started a job as a graphic designer for Gannett Digital, whose websites include and She says her Penn State education prepared her well. “Attending Penn State was the best choice I could have made,” she said. “I was fortunate to study art at Penn State. Even though I shifted my focus from painting and drawing to graphic design, my professors were still supportive. I became interested in graphic design after I saw the resources and opportunities available here.”

Jean says the new scholarship will help future Penn State students benefit from the College of Arts and Architecture’s resources. “I think it’s great that this scholarship will help other students have the same experience that I had.”

Jean’s younger sister, Maggie, is a junior in the College of Arts and Architecture. John says he wants to support the school that supports his children, while helping future students.

“Scholarships for students who need the money are most important to us, and we want to instill that type of giving in our own kids.”

The Jean Mitchell Gray Trustee Scholarship will support the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America. The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families. The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

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Last Updated October 01, 2013