Sophomore Callahan Stoub passed up the oppor­tunity for a new car in order to give back to her local com­munity. Callahan Stoub | Courtesy

Few college stu­dents would dream of turning down a new car — their key to late-night fast food runs and impromptu travel. But for sophomore Callahan Stoub, the dream car can wait.

When Eric Stoub, Callahan Stoub’s father, sold one of his busi­nesses, his first thought was to buy new cars for both Callahan and her brother. But Callahan had a dif­ferent idea.

“I have a car that works just fine,” she said. “In a way I felt that I didn’t deserve a new car. I didn’t have a need for a new one, and I knew there would be better ways to direct that money.”

Instead, Callahan decided to use the money to create an endowed schol­arship fund for stu­dents who work through high school in her hometown of St. Joseph, Michigan. Having received schol­ar­ships both in high school and college from a local orga­ni­zation, the Barrion County Com­munity Foun­dation, Callahan decided to create the schol­arship fund in part­nership with the foun­dation.

“The week before my dad called, I got into a really random con­ver­sation at lunch about what the average interest rate was for an endowed schol­arship,” Callahan said. “I had the idea for the schol­arship since high school, and with this in the back of my mind I was able to cal­culate how much it would cost to do a yearly $1,000 schol­arship.”

Stoub invested $25,000 in a safe stock to create an annual award of $1,000.

“Every year as the market grows there’s a per­centage that you just have in profit,” Stoub said. “When you are at 25,000, the margin of growth over the years is enough to provide 1,000 without taking money out of the original chunk.”

As the years go by, Callahan hopes the schol­arship can grow.

“The longer you keep it, the more you’ll get out of it,”  Stoub said. “If you have a really good year, you might be able to a support a $1,500 schol­arship. Over time, since we started this early, It’ll likely be able to split into two at one point, or I could make it a renewable schol­arship.”

Lisa Cripps-Downey, director of the com­munity foun­dation, said she was shocked by Callahan’s schol­arship ini­tiative. Though the foun­dation gives schol­ar­ships to over 100 stu­dents yearly, Callahan was the first student to ever begin an endowed schol­arship fund.

“Quite hon­estly, I thought she just wanted to put a few dollars away after being touched by the schol­ar­ships she had received,” Cripps-Downey said. “In my wildest dreams, it had never occurred to me that she was going to say, ‘Well, I’m going to start a schol­arship in lieu of a car.’”

Upon meeting with Cripps-Downey, Callahan created the guide­lines for the schol­arship alongside her parents.

“We were able to choose the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of a working student, the essay ques­tions that the stu­dents wrote, the set the number of rec­om­men­dation letters and where they came from,” Callahan said. “I was so sur­prised by the flex­i­bility we had with it.”

The inspi­ration sprang from their daily dinner con­ver­sa­tions.

“We cover so many things between my parents, my brothers, and me,” Callahan said. “Whether it’s what it takes to run a business, what it means to have an edu­cation, what it means to give back, and most impor­tantly what it looks like to give back.”

Beginning this May, the Stoub Family Fund will award $1,000 yearly to a student working through high school. Though Callahan par­tic­i­pated in various activ­ities in high school, she said her work expe­rience proved most invaluable.

“You don’t have the same account­ability in those vol­unteer activ­ities that you have in a job,” Callahan said. “Those are all really good things, but I think there is some­thing to be said about those who have the work ethic to buckle down and work hard in the summer.”

Callahan added that work expe­rience is often over­looked in college schol­ar­ships. Typ­i­cally, Callahan said, schol­ar­ships focus on those who vol­unteer or pour them­selves into countless extracur­ric­ulars. By focusing on stu­dents who have worked through high school, Callahan said she hopes to “reward them for their sac­ri­fices and work ethic.”

“It’s one of my favorite things seeing other people grow into whatever path they take,” Callahan said. “By paying what I’ve been given forward, I’m able to make it a little bit easier for some people to pursue their dreams and think less about the prac­tical prag­matic part of paying for college. It’s really valuable for people to pursue what they are inter­ested in instead of trying to settle for some­thing that they are capable of, but don’t nec­es­sarily love.”

Raising his kids to have a strong work ethic in all that they do, Eric Stoub said he is eager to commend the first schol­arship recipient for their hard work throughout high school.

“It’s a little bit of a ‘Well done good and faithful servant,’ ‘You done well kid,’” Eric said. “A lot of our society doesn’t rec­ognize kids that get jobs. And I think there are kids out there that are working and going to school to help provide for their family at home. That’s a huge burden.”

Throughout her college career, Callahan has con­sis­tently reached out to her local schol­arship donors, whether writing thank you notes or sending a ‘life update.’ Reflecting on a ‘thank you’ note from Callahan, Cripps-Downey said the note and Callahan’s picture still hangs in her office as a reminder of, “Yes, this is exactly why we do what we do.”

“She simply showed appre­ci­ation that someone had given her a hand and helped her,” Cripps-Downey said. “This schol­arship just reflects on her char­acter as someone who under­stands the need and remembers to thank those who meet it. I just hope that after college someone hires her so we don’t lose her from our com­munity.”

Callahan noted that for stu­dents at Hillsdale, the oppor­tunity to give back may come sooner than they expect.

“I want other people to start thinking early about when they will be able to give back, even if it’s not finan­cially pos­sible, because you never know when that oppor­tunity will come,” Callahan said. “It came a lot earlier than when I thought it would be able to.”

And, in Callahan’s eyes, you won’t be stuck trying to figure out where to start.

“Once you start thinking about it, you realize how many dif­ferent places have impacted you and what you are grateful for, and you come up with never-ending places where you want to give back,” Callahan said.

Reflecting on Callahan’s gen­erosity, Cripps-Downey said she hopes many people are impacted by Callahan’s gift — not just the schol­arship recip­ients.   

“I hope people see the impor­tance of playing the long game — some­thing that Callie figured out when she said, ‘This schol­arship is more important than upgrading my car,’” Cripp Davis said. “If she can do some­thing like that, can’t we all look at our cir­cum­stances and ask, ‘How can I play the long game? How can I see the imme­diate, but then choose to reach out to the com­munity and others and do some­thing like she did?’“