First-Generation College Grads Fund 21 Scholarships

Ed Carpenter

For Dr. William Lowe DPM ’57 and his wife Phyllis, visiting with students who receive their scholarship is a high point of the academic year. 

Now retired, the Lowes visit Samuel Merritt University’s Oakland campus to meet the one to four new students they provided financial aid to each year. The number of students varies, depending on the number of qualified applicants. A personal connection is important, the Lowes say, and evokes their motivation for starting the scholarship in 2005, when they focused mainly on students coming from China who had no family in the U.S. 

It didn’t take long for the Lowes—who are the children of Chinese immigrants and the first in their families to graduate from college—to broaden their efforts. Today, their scholarship is open to deserving podiatry students from any background who maintain a 2.75 GPA, are drawn to research, show a penchant for “giving back,” and who need financial assistance. So far, they’ve helped 21 students and that number will continue to grow.

What motivated you to establish this scholarship?

Ms. Lowe — Podiatry has been so good to us, and our colleagues have been so helpful. That’s why my husband and I decided to create this scholarship for the next generation. 

Why did you want your gift to go to scholarships specifically?

Dr. Lowe — Well, we were both students at one time and there was no such “animal” as scholarships then. We both had to have outside jobs. I as a dishwasher and Phyllis worked part-time at the San Francisco recreation department. We sure would have appreciated if there was such an animal. 

What do you hope your scholarship inspires in recipients?

Ms. Lowe — When they become successful, my husband and I hope they do the same thing— you know, help somebody else. We want them to say, ‘Hooray! Someone is helping me now.” And for them to know that someday they should help somebody else.

Dr. Lowe — Hopefully, the recipients of our scholarship will give back by creating a scholarship in their own name, just as the first recipient of our scholarship, Dr. Christy King, did recently. 

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