Sue Howland Gift Creates Scholarship for Nursing Students

San José, Calif. — San José State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $1.9 million gift from the late Sue Howland, ’64 Business Administration. The gift creates the Judy Howland and Sue Howland Nursing Tuition/Books Scholarship for single parents and other eligible undergraduate and graduate students at The Valley Foundation School of Nursing at the College of Health and Human Sciences. Scholarships cover the full cost of tuition and required books for students to earn their nursing degrees.

“The Valley Foundation School of Nursing is grateful for the generous gift provided by the Judy Howland and Sue Howland Nursing Tuition/Books Scholarship,” said Colleen O’Leary-Kelley, director of the Valley Foundation School of Nursing and nursing professor. “Our student population is diverse, and many are single parents with significant financial need. Scholarship support is vital for students who strive to improve their family’s future while working full time or part time. Their ability to succeed in a rigorous educational program is greatly enhanced. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the generosity of people like Sue Howland, who enable students to make their dreams become a reality.”

About Sue Howland

Sue Howland smiling in a bright read embroidered top.

Alumna Sue Howland established a planned gift that will create a scholarship for nursing students who are parents. Photo courtesy of Ana Espejo.

Born in Berkeley and raised in San José, Howland enrolled in a number of nursing courses at San José State before ultimately majoring in business. Ever the caretaker, Howland raised her son Scott while working for the San Jose Mercury News, Stanford University and McWhorter’s stationery in Los Gatos. When her grandmother fell ill, she quit her job to become her full-time caregiver, and later did the same for her mother. While she never became a nurse, Howland was a dedicated friend to many, including Ana Espejo, who she met when she hired Espejo’s husband to help with her garden.

“Sue was very compassionate and she had a lot of integrity and kindness,” said Espejo. “We became very close; she was my adopted mom. She was there for me when I was, at one point, a single mother. She treated my son as her grandson. She wanted to give single parents the resources to go to school, which is why she created the scholarship.”

Howland made arrangements in her trust to donate the proceeds from the sale of her house to create an endowed fund at San José State. The fund provides full-tuition scholarships named after Howland and her mother Julia (Judy) Howland to single parents so they may continue their studies while parenting. In her final years, Howland was grateful for the medical care she received as she was being treated for various illnesses and before she succumbed to cancer in 2019. Espejo said that it was this care that reinforced Howland’s desire to support future nurses.

“Throughout all of her surgeries and treatments, she appreciated that the nurses and medical assistants took such good care of her,” said Espejo. “This is part of why she wanted to support the nursing program at San José State, though she had planned her gift years before.”

“Sue Howland understood the challenges of single parenting while attending college and the impact that a scholarship like this could have. Students receiving this scholarship concentrate on their studies, and still spend valuable time with their children,” said Theresa Davis, vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. “We are grateful for her thoughtful planning many years ago to leave a meaningful legacy at San José State.”

“I stand in awe of Sue Howland. It is remarkable that she and her family would share with such generosity their treasures with the College of Health and Human Science’s Valley Foundation School of Nursing,” said Audrey Shillington, dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. “So many of our students face challenges, working their way through school, often juggling multiple jobs on top of coursework and practicum commitments. Ms. Howland had the insight to recognize that single parents face additional barriers and that they are much more likely to drop out due to all the financial burdens facing them. This gift will change the lives of all the parents who receive it. Beyond this though, the gift will impact the lives of the students’ children. This will lead to intergenerational transformation.”

To learn how you can support the university with a planned gift, please contact Randy Balogh, director of Planned Giving, at 408-924-1123 or via email at randy.balogh@sjsu.edu.

About San José State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its nine colleges. With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 280,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.