Gilbert I. “Buddy” Low Scholarship Program celebrates 10 years at SFA

During the past 10 years, the Gilbert I. “Buddy” Low Scholarship Program has covered the cost of tuition and fees for several San Augustine High School graduates to attend SFA.

Those involved with the scholarship program celebrated a decade of promoting student success in September with a luncheon that brought scholarship donors, current and past scholarship recipients, and SFA administrators together.

Low, who graduated from SFA in 1954 and is a trial attorney with Orgain Bell & Tucker in Beaumont, credits his San Augustine teachers with preparing him for the rigors of higher education.

“When I got to SFA, I did well because of the quality education I received from my teachers in San Augustine,” Low said. “I had a job on campus and did pipeline work — hard, hot work — and saved during the summers to pay for my education. I started the scholarship program because I wanted to help students like me who really couldn’t afford to go to college be able to attend SFA and concentrate on their studies.”

Low’s pay-it-forward approach has helped 31 SFA students achieve their dream of higher education.

“During the past decade, we have selected three scholarship recipients per year to join this elite group of student leaders,” said W. Frank Newton, president and chief executive officer of the Beaumont Foundation of America, which administers the scholarship program. “From year to year, the recipients become mentors and support the subsequent year’s recipients, thus continuing the cycle of academic success.”

The scholarships are awarded based on financial need as well as potential for academic success in college. Interested students are screened by the school district and participate in an interview with representatives of the Beaumont Foundation of America.

Each scholarship recipient is eligible to receive up to $11,200 per year for four years of study at SFA. In addition to paying for tuition and fees, the scholarship also provides reimbursement for books and supplies.

First Christopher J. Snyder Memorial Scholarship awarded

Natalie Clem of Memphis, Tennessee, is the first recipient of the Christopher J. Snyder Memorial Scholarship.

“Orientation and mobility is my passion,” said Clem, a senior orientation and mobility student. “Christopher Snyder is an inspiration to me because he made it from Chicago to Nacogdoches in 1997 to do something that I love and I’m passionate about, as well. To be able to follow in his passion and love for orientation and mobility is an honor.” .

Clem said the scholarship made it possible for her to transfer from a university in her home state to SFA where the only undergraduate orientation and mobility program in the nation is offered. .

Snyder was a two-time SFA graduate and a certified orientation and mobility specialist who moved to Nacogdoches from Chicago in 1997 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in orientation and mobility. After his graduation in 1999, Snyder returned to Illinois to work with visually impaired students, teaching them how to travel safely in different environments. In 2001, Snyder and Nacogdoches-native Kim Luna were married, and they lived in the Chicago area before moving back to Nacogdoches in 2004. .

Snyder served each summer as an instructor for a six-week SFA course teaching other teachers orientation and mobility skills to better assist their visually impaired students. In 2005, he earned his Master of Education in special education with an emphasis in serious emotional disorders and autism. He worked for Nacogdoches ISD as an assistive technology teacher and orientation and mobility specialist, helping special-needs students and their teachers throughout the district, until his death in January 2017. .