22 November 2020

Announcing the Janice Cattarin Memorial Scholarship for Women

Note: This site hosts my long-running running blog. Today I’m using it as a convenient platform to post about the endowed scholarship that my sister and I have created in honor of our mom, Janice Cattarin, who passed away in July of 2020. The first section of this post is a short briefer on the scholarship – what you need to know to donate and enhance the endowment. After that are some additional stories about mom that you may enjoy. And after that, navigate the blog if you’re so inclined. I haven’t written much in the last year, but there are plenty of stories archived for your enjoyment.

For the “Just Let Me Donate Now! Quick!” folks… 

Go to www.sunybroome.edu/gift. Under Designation of Gift, check “In Honor” or “In Memory” and enter “Janice Cattarin Scholarship”.  If your employer offers matching gifts, the Foundation qualifies!


Janice Cattarin Memorial Scholarship for Women

Janice Cattarin believed strongly in the value of education and worked actively to further educational opportunities for women in the Southern Tier of New York, her home for nearly 60 years.

Widowed at age 28 in the mid-1960s with two young children, Jan was fortunate that her late husband’s employer IBM offered her a position shortly thereafter. That was possible in large part because she was also fortunate to have had the opportunity to earn a degree earlier in life. Her education likely made the difference between just getting by as a single mother and the quarter-century-long professional career she enjoyed at IBM, which spanned numerous functions until she retired in 1992. Her family benefited tremendously from the value of her having the education which enabled her success.

In 1967 Jan joined the Binghamton chapter of American Association of University Women, an organization founded in 1881 with the mission to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research. She was active in the organization for over fifty years until her death in 2020. She held nearly every office, attended every meeting possible, and volunteered at every event, and most importantly was active in the AAUW Scholarship Committee. She received the Binghamton area Women of Achievement Award in 1984 for her work in AAUW.

The Janice Cattarin Memorial Scholarship for Women was established by her children to honor their mother, to give back to the community that was her and her family’s home, and to recognize the value of education for women, especially those who find themselves in a changing or difficult life situation where education offers the opportunity to raise themselves and their families to success.

SUNY Broome and the Janice Cattarin Scholarship

SUNY Broome, formerly known as Broome Community College, offers an ideal environment to maximize the impact of the Janice Cattarin Scholarship. It fulfills the educational needs for those striving to elevate their situation while holding costs low, but student resources are also often low, and there is always need.

It is intended that the Scholarship will operate in perpetuity, awarding several scholarships annually. Recipients will be chosen by a committee made up of SUNY Broome faculty, family, SUNY Broome academic affairs staff, and members of the Binghamton Chapter of AAUW.

Giving to the Janice Cattarin Memorial Scholarship for Women

The Janice Cattarin Memorial Scholarship for Women is administered by the Broome Community College Foundation (a.k.a. SUNY Broome Foundation), a 501(c)3 foundation affiliated with SUNY Broome. Gifts are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Gifts can be made online or by check as detailed at www.sunybroome.edu/ways-to-give

Online gifts can be made at www.sunybroome.edu/gift

Under Designation of Gift, please be sure to check either “In Honor” or “In Memory” and enter “Janice Cattarin Scholarship”. The full scholarship name isn’t required; the staff will identify the gift and designate appropriately.

The Janice Cattarin Scholarship can also benefit from matching gifts from employers who offer this benefit. Please see details at www.sunybroome.edu/matching-gifts.

About the SUNY Broome Foundation

The Broome Community College Foundation strives to be among the most supportive community college foundations in the State University of New York System and in the country. The Foundation aims to assist needy students, recognize and honor high-achieving students, help faculty and staff provide the best instructional environment possible, and encourage innovation and achievement on campus, especially where government funds are either unavailable or insufficient.

Each year, about 87% of the SUNY Broome student population need additional funding to attend school. Without this help, attending college would be a little to null opportunity. Through the valiant efforts of the College alumni, businesses, community friends, foundations, associations, organizations, SUNY Broome faculty, staff, and students, the Foundation is able to award over $1,000,000 each year to deserving and financially disadvantaged students. The Foundation’s priority is to provide private financial funding to our students through merit scholarships and grants-in-aid.

Additional information on the SUNY Broome Foundation can be found at: broomeccfoundation.org

Broome Community College Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 1017
Binghamton, NY 13902-1017

For additional information about the Janice Cattarin Scholarship Memorial for Women please feel free to contact:

Catherine Abashian Williams, MPA, CFRE
Executive Director, Broome Community College Foundation, Inc.
williamscr at sunybroome.edu

or Gary Cattarin, son of Janice Cattarin at cattarin at comcast.net

Note: That's the facts bit. The rest is for your enjoyment.

More About Mom and the Scholarship

Let’s start with the frank part: Many who’ve run with me, worked with me, or just crossed my path have heard me lament about the trials and tribulations of caring for my aged mother (from afar, Cindy did most of the up-close leg work, bless her…). Truth: The last decade has been a rough ride. Mom did plenty of things I’ve complained vocally about as my form of ‘talk therapy’. Elderly people are frustrating in many ways. I probably will be too at some point, even if I’d like to think that I’ve learned some things not to do from mom.

But here’s the other frank part: Before all that, Mom was all the nuts. To use a bad sports metaphor, she wasn’t just thrown a curve ball, she took the proverbial beanball. I’ve mentioned repeatedly – in her obituary, in the scholarship brief above, and many other times – how she was widowed early with two young kids. You know that part. What else you should know is how she got up out of the dust and made it. And not just eked it out, but made it comfortably and with style.

She told me once that after dad’s death, she’d considered moving from our home in Upstate New York back to Ohio to be near her parents. But she didn’t. She kept on, and made her own life in New York. IBM was invaluable in making that happen, but they were only the third part of the equation. Her education was the first, her spirit the enabler, and IBM provided the vehicle.

Mom & Dad moved to the Endicott area when Dad the engineer took a job with IBM in 1961. In the five years before he passed, he made quite a mark; when I co-op’d there in 1980, people introduced me as Bob’s son. That was an eye-opener. Tom Watson’s IBM took care of their own in those days, and they hired mom the year after dad's death. Sure, they needed every able-bodied brain they could get, but mom’s education opened doors that led past a basic job to a professional career. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As a young kid, you don’t see the significance of a lot of things; they just are. When the Chevy wagon went away for the ’67 Firebird, it never occurred to me that mom was young and single and cool. It just meant that when we piled in the car with the neighborhood kids for a ride to McDonald’s, which in those days was take-out and we often ate in the car, it was a tight fit in a tiny backseat. But somehow we fit; we were little, and she was young and single and cool and on top of that, a professional woman.

She wasn’t the only one. IBM was ahead of its time. We spent plenty of time with her professional women friends. It seemed perfectly normal to me. But looking back I can see all the things I didn’t notice then. That small klatch was still an anomaly, even at IBM, and almost non-existent outside that orbit. It was still a man’s world. Mail still came to Mrs. Robert Cattarin a decade or more after dad’s death. She just didn’t let that stop her.

She dated a couple of people but never remarried. She finished the job, so to speak, of raising us, all on her own. Sure, she had help. For years she employed our caretaker, Mrs. Lucas to be there when we got home from school, since she couldn’t be (and yes, she was smart enough to file and pay the employer portion social security taxes, unlike a later Supreme Court candidate who didn't). Her parents would move in for a week each year and scrub every surface and fix every broken thing. And we had the best neighbors in the world. Bill next door was there for anything we needed. Not because of sympathy for that single mom next door, but just because that’s who he was (and still is, for that matter).

By the time I was in high school it had finally dawned on me that the reason I had to coordinate with mom for dinner plans almost daily over email (yes, in 1980, we were both IBMers, she for real, me as a high-school co-op) was because her calendar was, well, crazy. She was crazy involved.

You learn how not to grow moss from such a person.

So back to the scholarship. Why? The scholarship is endowed at the SUNY Broome Foundation and benefits SUNY Broome students. SUNY Broome is the new name for what we knew as Broome Community College (SUNY, for those of you non-New Yorkers, is the State University of New York system). Neither I nor my sister nor mom went to SUNY Broome (though my younger kid did get a fine education at another SUNY school). So why there?

The year after dad passed, mom joined an organization called the American Association of University Women, or AAUW. I don’t know how she learned about it or what spurred her initial sign-up, but it’s not hard to guess that educated professional women in the 60’s were not in the majority, and that the social and intellectual rewards from hanging out with people of her type were a big draw. Mom had attended Stephens College in Missouri, which at that time was a junior college, and then Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (not to be confused with THE Ohio State University), so she had a degree, which, as I’ve noted, probably made all the difference between just making it and making it nicely. I can’t say that IBM wouldn’t have hired her, but I can speculate that they wouldn’t have put her on professional track without her education.

AAUW has been all about advocating for women’s education since their founding in the nineteenth century. Today, when women make up more than half of all college students, that might seem like an anachronism. But when broken down by field, there is still a long way to go. I’m an avid reader of Scientific American, and they’ve run countless columns about how far we are from gender equity in science and research, for example. And even now, there’s no question that traditional women’s roles persist. Not that that’s wrong, but it adds a challenge to a woman trying to come back from life’s curve balls – or beanballs – and lift themselves to success.

Mom worked tirelessly on almost everything that AAUW did. And one of those things that AAUW did was to create a scholarship fund endowed at SUNY Broome, targeting ‘non-traditional’ women students. Not teens just getting started, but women who have taken a curve ball or a beanball and are trying to lift themselves and their families to success. That was mom’s story. My story is what it is because she succeeded.

When mom passed and we wanted to designate a charity for gifts, because we didn’t want flowers and in the age of COVID had nothing to do with them anyway, so sis and I opted for the AAUW scholarship fund as a worthy target. Then when the dust settled, we decided to earmark funds she’d given us years earlier to the same cause. In light of our substantial gift, the AAUW chapter considered renaming their scholarship in mom’s name, but in the end we opted to set up a separate endowed scholarship in her name with the same goals and selection criterion as the original fund. This means more grants to more students. And hopefully more success stories and successful and happy families. And it also serves as a gift to the community which she called home for nearly sixty years, and which gave sis and I our starts.

The scholarship is administered by the SUNY Broome Foundation who’s significant size means the endowment enjoys perpetual professional investment management. The Binghamton AAUW Scholarship Committee will judge applicants, though sis and I can also chime in if we wish, and the Foundation will ensure that if AAUW and sis and I are long gone, they’ll continue to administer the scholarship and award grants. So this really is a perpetual gift.

When was the last time you were able to be a part of a legacy?

Please consider donating to the scholarship fund.

And thanks for reading this.

By the way, you can read mom’s obituary here.

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