Published January 3, 2022
Theresa Ragozine at her Neptune home (Photo by John O’Boyle).
A scholarship enabled Theresa Ragozine to finish college and embark on a successful career. Now, she wants to do the same for current students.
Theresa Ragozine knows that her parents, blue-collar workers who did not attend college, would have done everything they could to make sure she earned a college degree, no matter how difficult it might have been for them.
However, when she received a scholarship from Rutgers, it eased the “heavy lift” her parents would have faced. The financial aid “allowed me to be a student. Albeit one with a part-time job but with much less of a financial burden,” Ragozine RC’80 says. “That created a solid launching pad, and I’ve never forgotten the support.”
Having recently retired after a 36-year career as an executive at Johnson & Johnson, Ragozine wanted to make a difference in the lives of future students who, like her, could use a hand up. In the past, she has given generously to her alma mater, creating a scholarship for Rutgers Future Scholars, a college access program for underresourced, academically promising New Jersey students.
But, she says, “I wanted to make a more permanent commitment” to the university. To that end, she established a charitable remainder trust to support Scarlet Promise Grants. The grants provide financial aid for students who need to bridge the gap between what federal and state aid programs offer and what their families can afford. The grants also address short-term emergency needs.
Contributing to her decision to create the trust in support of Scarlet Promise Grants was Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway’s announcement on his first official day in office in July 2020 that he was launching a campaign to raise $10 million for the grants. (At his inauguration in November, Holloway announced he has expanded that goal, now surpassed, to $50 million, which will support an array of financial aid and access initiatives.)
“He made a very sincere and promising introduction during a difficult time,” Ragozine says. “I was struck by his message, and what I respect most about it was his clear intent to find the right focal point for his attention. He made a personal financial commitment to Scarlet Promise Grants and I thought it was a terrific leadership beginning. It got my attention.”
Providing students with the resources they need to pursue their dreams helps not only them but the rest of society, Ragozine says, because Rutgers graduates will go on to find solutions to challenges facing our state, nation, and world.
Supporting Scarlet Promise Grants “is also an investment in shaping a new generation of philanthropists,” she adds. “This generation that receives assistance can also become a generation that gives it.”