Family Tradition Inspires ROTC Scholarship

In a single act of giving, Todd Elworthy honored his mother, his grandmother, and his family’s long history of service by creating a financial path for motivated ROTC cadets at SOU to complete their degree. “I wanted to make a contribution to education and support students who may not have the means,” said Elworthy.

A strong advocate of lifelong learning, Elworthy continued his family’s tradition of university giving by establishing the Bernice Cleveland and Carolyn Elworthy ROTC Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship is for ROTC cadets who demonstrate the highest level of service before self, and excellence to their command, professors, and peers.

Named in honor of his grandmother and mother, respectively, Elworthy’s gift was SOU’s first-ever gift endowing a scholarship for ROTC students. Elworthy chose the ROTC in large part because of his family’s military service. His grandfather served in the European theater of World War II then Korea, and his father served during the Korean conflict. Today, Elworthy’s daughter carries on the tradition as an officer in the United States Navy.

Elworthy’s grandparents lived in Grants Pass until their passing in 2003, and they gave generously to ROTC cadets in Oregon. Their support of higher education, military service, and love of Oregon inspired Elworthy. “I just took their lead and decided to set up endowed scholarships that would outlive me and my family,” he said.

Grandmother Bernice and mother Carolyn emphasized the importance of learning and education to Elworthy as a young man. “They are a study in contrasts as to what was available to them in regard to secondary education,” he said. “My grandmother was one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever known; she was smart and driven. She was also a product of the Great Depression and did not have the opportunity to continue her education, as my mother did.”

After Elworthy completed his doctoral degree, he chose to honor his grandmother in a very personal way. The family often held gatherings at his grandparents’ Grants Pass home and one Christmas during the 1990s, Elworthy planned something special. “I knew how much my grandmother valued school and how much she supported me, so I wrapped up my doctorate diploma and gifted it to her,” he said. “I had not seen her cry before that moment.”

Although Elworthy spent time in Southern Oregon visiting his grandparents, he was not very familiar with SOU. “I hadn’t paid that much attention to SOU, but I was keenly interested in creating some scholarships in Oregon,” he said. An invitation to visit the university created the pathway Elworthy needed. “As I learned more about SOU, it just got better and better,” he said.

Elworthy hopes the scholarship helps SOU’s ROTC cadets achieve their academic and professional goals. “I think it is stellar that they have also chosen to serve our country. I am in awe of these students.”