Sante Thomas

Supporting Educational Excellence – SCC Alum and Foundation Board Member Offers Scholarships to Deserving Students

SCC student Sante Thomas has no doubts about what she wants to accomplish and what kind of commitment will be necessary in order to realize her dream.  And, thanks to someone who knows the meaning of hard work and persistence, she is getting much needed help.

Thomas is one of a number of students receiving a scholarship from John Zeltin, a Solano Community College alum and board member of the Solano Community College Education Foundation.  Recently, he met with Thomas and other scholarship recipients for a lunch where he congratulated them for their hard work.

The son of a Lutheran pastor, Zeltin, a resident of Manhattan in New York City, had few resources to finance his own education. “My father devoted his life to helping all who needed him.  He didn’t have much money.  I decided to get my AA Degree at Solano because it was affordable and the professors were excellent.”

The ambitious Zeltin worked hard and transferred to Sacramento State University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.  After graduation, he secured a position with a financial firm in New York City that offered him support for continuing his education.  As a result, he earned a Master’s Degree from Columbia University.

“Education was very important to my parents.  My dad graduated from the University of Chicago and my mother completed her nursing education later in life.  They stressed that education ensures a successful professional life.”

“I know it will take me 10 years to become a doctor,” says Thomas, her determination and passion underlining that she is up to the challenge.  “After that, I plan to work another five years to become a neonatologist.  I want to help children, particularly those who are born prematurely.”

Thomas, who is a single mother of a toddler, wants to follow in Zeltin’s considerable footsteps.  Thanks, in part, to his support, she will be able to be the first in her immediate family to graduate after she receives her AA Degree at SCC.  “My mother is so proud, but still shocked that I plan to devote so much time toward my education.”

“Funding scholarships for students in need is our highest priority,” said Curt Johnston, Executive Director of SCC’s Education Foundation.  “We are proud of our work helping students like Sante.  John’s generosity will fund SCC student scholarships for nearly 15 years into the future.  We are so grateful he has chosen to give back to SCC and help the current generation thrive.  John is truly an example for all of us.”

During the lunch, Zeltin shared his stories about a satisfying, decades-long career at American Express where he served as a senior marketing executive, specializing in event planning on a global level.  Recently retired, he plans to continue working as a consultant.

For Thomas, his story was inspiring.  So was his advice.

“He is such a nice man, and it’s amazing to have my scholarship.  Because I have a child, it means everything to get the help.  He told me to keep up the work and keep my enthusiasm.  He said that my passion will take me far.”

The scholarships, says Zeltin, are a way of helping young people achieve a dream that they may find very difficult without some level of support.  “What really impresses me are students who may not have all the financial advantages but possess the drive to get an education and achieve goals.  I often tell young students to persevere.  Work hard and keep going.  Never give up.”