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Jean, Gary, and Sherri Thomas

Jean and Gary Thomas, met in 1952, at Phoenix College. In 2017 they established the Thomas Family Fund at South Mountain Community College (SMCC), specifically for the Native American and African American female students because for 15 years, they volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to build homes on tribal lands and through their scholarship, they want to ensure this community feels supported. Jean and Gary believe that women who are educated, educate the whole family and since the inception of their scholarship, more than $32,500 has been awarded.

Sherri, their daughter, is continuing their legacy. Passionate about helping women further their education and careers, Sherri chose to be a member of the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation board and believes that her role, is to continue developing industry and business partnerships, establish community connections and to build fundraising support to help students thrive. Sherri created the Pass-It-Forward scholarship fund for working women of minority with $15,000 of her own money and a matching grant from the Intel Corporation, the scholarship is now at $41,000 and has a goal of it reaching $100,000 by 2022.

The Thomas’ continue to support their scholarship recipients outside of endowments. They keep an open dialogue throughout the semester and their students know that they will be supported through their entire educational journey, not just what they experience at SMCC.