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?’“