The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

The Gift of Education

Jean Gray (center) with brother John and sister Maggie

Graduating from college is undoubtedly a gift-giving occasion. Whether you’re 21 or 51, it’s the culmination of years of hard work and the beginning of new adventures. Many students, however, leave college with more than a diploma and happy memories—they are also saddled with debt. That’s why Jean Mitchell Gray (’13 B.A. Art and Advertising) accepted a rather unique gift from her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Gray, upon her May 2013 graduation—a Trustee Matching Scholarship in her name, to help future students attain a Penn State College of Arts and Architecture education.

“Our daughter Jean wanted to establish a scholarship for families in need. Some students are paying back their loans for 20 years,” says her dad, John, president and CEO of the Healthcare Management Distribution Association (HDMA). “People don’t realize how important scholarship money is for some students, and scholarships go a long way in recruiting.”

This Trustee Scholarship gives first preference to Visual Arts students within the College of Arts and Architecture. " We are delighted to be able to offer these scholarship opportunities to our students," said Dr. Graeme Sullivan, director, Penn State School of Visual Arts.  "The Gray family's dedication to education through the arts at Penn State is truly treasured, and will enrich the experience of many of our students."

The Grays previously established the Gray Family Trustee Scholarship in the College of Arts and Architecture. While neither parent is a Penn State alum, John says Jean immediately fell in love with the University Park campus during her first visit, when she was deciding what college to attend. “Penn State had the ‘feel’ of a small campus and close-knit community,” he says. “We are delighted to support Penn State.”

Jean pursued dual majors in art and advertising, and also studied graphic design. Immediately after graduation, she started a job as a graphic designer for Gannett Digital, whose websites include and She says her Penn State education prepared her well. “Attending Penn State was the best choice I could have made,” she says. “I was fortunate to study art at Penn State. Even though I shifted my focus from painting and drawing to graphic design, my professors were still supportive. I became interested in graphic design after I saw the resources and opportunities available here.”

Jean says the new scholarship will help future Penn State students benefit from the College of Arts and Architecture’s resources. “I think it’s great that this scholarship will help other students have the same experience that I had.”

Jean’s younger sister, Maggie, is a junior in the College of Arts and Architecture. John says he wants to support the school that supports his children, while helping future students. “Scholarships for students who need the money are most important to us, and we want to instill that type of giving in our own kids.”

The Jean Mitchell Gray Trustee Matching Scholarship and other Trustee Matching Scholarships established with an endowment of $50,000 from now through the end of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students will earn a 10 percent annual match from Penn State’s budget. Click here for more information on the Trustee Matching Scholarship Program.

Photo Caption: Jean Gray (center) with brother John and sister Maggie

Text courtesy of Amy Milgrub Marshall