Published December 1, 2021
By Amy Vames
Alumna remembers her own challenges paying for college and makes a gift to ease the journey for today’s students.
Carole Sampson-Landers remembers how she and her parents struggled to afford college when she attended Rutgers. “I had to live at home and my parents worked extra—all they could afford was tuition,” says Sampson-Landers DC’69, GSNB’74. And she understands how much more expensive a college degree is today.
She learned about current students’ difficulties paying for tuition, housing, books, and fees as a member of Rutgers’ Board of Trustees, where she recently started her second term. In 2019, she and her fellow board members, alarmed at the number of students dropping out of school or taking on substantial debt because of financial struggles, pledged to boost the endowment for the Scarlet Promise Grants program by $3 million. The grants fill gaps for students whose financial aid has been depleted or who need emergency assistance.
“When I joined the board,” Sampson-Landers says, “I took seriously my responsibility to make financial donations to the board’s initiatives. I had been helped when I was at Douglass College with scholarship money and work-study opportunities, and I always said I would help other students down the road because I got help.”
When President Jonathan Holloway took office in July 2020, he announced a campaign to raise $10 million to support Scarlet Promise Grants and made a generous gift himself. That sealed the deal for Sampson-Landers and led her to make a $50,000 gift to the grants program. “I wanted to make sure I did something over and above what I’d done before. I thought, ‘I’m a graduate of two Rutgers schools, I should be able to step up and do something a bit more.’”
Sampson-Landers says that her Rutgers degrees prepared her for a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working for Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Bayer Healthcare. As a researcher, she helped develop antibiotics, pregnancy and cholesterol tests, and a medication to prevent Chagas disease in children.
“I was very fortunate,” she says. “I had a good position in pharma and have enough that I can help others.” She hopes Rutgers alumni and friends of the university will consider a gift to support the Scarlet Promise Grants at a level that works best for them.
“If everybody chips in and gives a little bit, it will make a big difference in a lot of students’ lives,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be a lot, just what you can give.”