’06 and Jack
James ’62 met in
Penfield Library’s Lake Effect Café.
When Jessica Cheseboro ’06
walked across the stage at Laker Hall Dec. 16 to get
her diploma, she had a lot of company, figuratively
She received help and support from her family, especially
her husband; her employer and Jack
James ’62, who funded a scholarship that
helped Cheseboro complete her degree.
“I had a lot of help along the way, but it was
a tough path,” said the business administration
major from Oswego.
Cheseboro first entered college in Florida in 1992,
but had to cut short her college career because of
a divorce. She devoted her time to raising her children
and put her college education on hold.
She was working at Walt Disney World in Florida when
she met and married Ed Cheseboro, an Oswego native,
and moved to Oswego.
“In 1999, we moved up here and I saw I had a
university practically in my back yard,” said
Cheseboro. “It was a sign to me to go back and
finish what I’d begun.”
With her husband’s support, she started back
part-time and went full-time in 2004. But when her
husband was injured and she needed to return to work
full-time to support the family, she had a choice
She didn’t want to return to part-time student
status, so she chose to work full-time, while holding
down a full-time college course load.
Her husband helped, driving the three children —
Hector, 16; Dan, 14; and Veronica, 12 — to football
and basketball practices, doctors’ and dentist’s
appointments and having supper prepared when she returned
“It’s nice to come home to a home-cooked
meal when you’re exhausted, even when you know
you’re going to have to rush right out the door
to the library or something,” she said with
Her employer, Randy Ziegler
’82 of Ameriprise Financial, where Cheseboro
works as office manager/financial planning assistant,
has been equally generous, giving her the opportunity
to take classes and make up her work hours later.
He is supporting her in opportunities to advance in
the company. “[My degree can mean] more responsibility,
more work and more opportunities to shoot for the
stars,” Cheseboro said.
And then there came the award from Jack
James ’62, just when she needed it. It
came late in her last semester, when she had bills
to pay and the crunch of schoolwork and life collided.
“It came at a time when I thought, ‘I
can’t do this for another six weeks,’”
she said. “The gift that he gave me, I said,
‘I can do this now.’ It put things into
perspective for me.”
James, retired after 29 years with the Marine Corps
and now teaching adult education at National Louis
University, donated $25,000 to establish a scholarship
for non-traditional students at Oswego. James envisioned
his scholarship to help someone just like Cheseboro:
a working mother coming back to school, a person whose
career was interrupted or a veteran returning to civilian
Cheseboro appreciated the gift on several levels.
“Not only did it help financially, but it helped
me see that the light was getting bigger and bigger
at the end of the tunnel and it didn’t look
like a train anymore,” she said.
The scholarship award was a surprise, but an even
bigger surprise came in November, when James, on campus
for a meeting, sought out Cheseboro with a special
gift: a diploma frame for her December graduation.
“I have felt very blessed with the opportunity
to meet him,” she said of her benefactor. “Usually
these scholarship funds are in memory of someone.
I felt very grateful and appreciative of the fact
that he set something up like this.”
James’ inspiration extended to more than encouragement
to finish her degree, Cheseboro said. It has inspired
her to someday give back in the same way James did.
“This act of kindness that Jack James has shown
to me, has made me think hard about doing something
like this,” she said. “In the conversation
we had when we met, he said he worried and wondered
if Oswego State would find someone for his scholarship.
I know I’m not the only one out there that has
had the kind of life I had.
“Everybody needs some kind of encouragement
at one point or another.”
— Michele Reed