Coming from the small city of Mankato, Minnesota, Aaron Buch never thought he would have the opportunity to get his collegiate education in Florida.
Financial support from the Johnson Scholarship Foundation gave the Palm Beach Atlantic University senior a chance to study medicinal & biological chemistry, he said during the third annual Johnson Scholarship Day Monday. Eighty-five scholarship recipients at the event thanked three representatives of the foundation and shared their future plans.
The scholarships are based primarily on financial need. President & CEO Malcolm Macleod likes to say the foundation is “for the underdog.”
“Students are the leaders of society, and they’re going to be doing what I’m doing some day. It’s important for us to invest in them at this stage in their journey, help them acquire the skills and the knowledge and the values they need to live a good life,” Macleod said. “To come here, see them, meet them and talk to them is a delight.”
Theodore R. Johnson, the foundation’s late founder, began his career at United Parcel Service doing studies with messengers. He obtained his Master of Business Administration in night school and retired from the company as vice president of labor relations. He bought as much stock as he could, and the shares later tripled in value.
Johnson and his wife Vivian Chesley Macleod Johnson put their wealth to work helping young people with financial need get education. They believed education from universities such as PBA could reverse a moral decline in America, said Lady Hereford, program specialist for the foundation.
Hereford told students that the best way to show their gratitude is by reaching their potential.
Buch has made the most of his opportunity: he is student body president, manager of the men’s basketball team and a LeMieux Fellow. He is doing research in gene editing that he would have to get in line for at any other university, he said.
He appreciated getting to meet his benefactors.
“PBA is a campus built upon relationships. Sometimes it’s just a tagline. I really do believe that to be the truth,” he said. “It’s a very nice opportunity, both for them and for us.”
University President William M.B. Fleming, Jr. said the theme for the year is “DREAM,” and the foundation’s assistance allows students’ dreams to grow, be well-planted and harvested.
“Dreams do come true at PBA,” he said. “Thank you for providing us a dream factory for PBA students.”
Photo: Student/Scholarship recipient April Henry chats with Johnson Scholarship Foundation President & CEO Malcolm Macleod.