“For me it was always difficult finding scholarships that fit,” Cole Curry (19) said. “My GPA was too low, but my SATs were above [average]. I thought, ‘what if I developed a scholarship that somebody like me could receive?’”
Curry standing and laughing

Curry always had a passion for housing and local politics, but he didn’t enjoy learning until he was an undergraduate student at PLNU. Now, he wants to encourage and support students with the Curry Endowed Scholarship for students in the Department of History and Political Science. As he became PLNU’s youngest ever alum to create an endowed scholarship, Curry was firm that the student would have to meet one standout qualification to be chosen for the award.

“There’s a requirement that the student must demonstrate a joy in learning, which is my experience at Point Loma,” Curry said. “There’s so many people who can be passionate about something but there’s a difference when it’s funwhen you’re having a really good time with it.

“If you can find the academically challenging piece fun, then it kind of changes your whole approach to life.”

Curry is a contract program auditor for the city of Tacoma, WA. In this role, he uses public funding to fund nonprofits for various services, including sheltering for homeless individuals, senior services, food banks and more.  

Curry’s interest in housing and local politics began long before his time as a political science student at PLNU. As a child, he and his brother often helped their father rake leaves around their neighborhood. Storm drains would often fill with leaves and cause flooding when it rained in Tacoma, so his family helped keep the neighborhood clean. Curry explained that these opportunities to help others in simple ways left an impression on him and his future career. It helped him think outside of himself and think about the community as a whole.

Curry with his father
Curry with his father

“What got me interested in political science was the normal, everyday things,” Curry said. “Trash, potholes, graffiti — all this stuff you don’t think about that is something that you see everyday in the city you live in.”

In addition, Curry’s father ran a homeless shelter and rehab center for ten years, and his family would often spend Thanksgivings and Christmases visiting several shelters to help feed those in need. These experiences were also instrumental in stoking his passion for housing.

Although Curry was excited when he arrived at PLNU with a political science major, he had struggled with academics in high school. He loved reading and learning, but never connected strongly with traditional education in the classroom. However, things changed at PLNU.

“I wasn’t a great student, I think I graduated high school with a 3.0.,” Curry said. “But I ended up graduating from Point Loma with honors in three years. And it’s mostly because the professors made stuff so fun.”

Part of what made PLNU’s approach to education so fun was their encouragement to lean into the things he was interested in. He ended up taking extra classes about banking and real estate. He even did extra reading to fuel his understanding of the subject matter. He realized that he really did love learning — he just had to dig into the topics that he was passionate about.

“I was averaging a book a week outside of school,” Curry said. “It lit something under me, the presence of the professors, that got me really excited to jump into different areas that I had an interest in.”

PLNU’s program helped him qualify for a job at the San Diego Housing Commision, which led him to full-time employment in the housing sector after he earned his B.A. in Political Science. Since then, Curry has moved from San Diego back to Tacoma to be closer to his brother’s growing family, but he still works to help people in need to find quality, affordable housing.

Curry standing and leaning on a tree

The scholarships Curry received as a student continue to impact him, especially as he tackles his remaining student loans. The generosity of PLNU’s valued donors encouraged him to start his own endowed scholarship. 

“The scholarship’s small — it’s nothing huge for now,” Curry said. “Obviously, the goal is to keep giving. And hopefully this is the scholarship in this department. That’s my goal. It’s definitely doable; we’re just getting started.”

“The scholarship’s small — it’s nothing huge for now,” Curry said. “Obviously, the goal is to keep giving. And hopefully this is the scholarship in this department. That’s my goal. It’s definitely doable; we’re just getting started.”

He came up with the scholarship idea based on his own experiences. While some scholarships require minimum grade point averages or formal qualifications, Curry wanted this scholarship to be for students who are passionate about learning — even if their grades aren’t the most exceptional.

“I got to Point Loma and said, ‘there’s so much I don’t know, and it’s exciting.’ I really wanted there to be a scholarship that encouraged that — I didn’t want there to be any unnecessary hurdles for someone to get an education like that.

“My hope is that [the scholarship] fosters that joy of learning in individuals and rewards it, and they see fruits from it. Point Loma’s a launching pad, really, and I hope for recipients of this award that what they learn at Point Loma, dealing with academic hardship, financial hardship, the skills you learn there are going to be incredibly helpful.”

Toby Franklin is the copy editor for PLNU’s Marketing team. He is a reader and writer of speculative fiction and comic books.