One student each from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges was awarded a $500 scholarship on Jan. 11 to continue their studies in political science. The scholarships were drawn from a fund established in memory of Brian Jennings, a professor in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.
His wife Nancy Jennings, a Cuyamaca college professor, said the Building Bridges scholarship was named as such because her husband was passionate about bridging the gap between political parties in the United States and executed that vision on a personal level by working to bring Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges closer together as a professor at both local schools.
“The scholarship is set up so a student from each school can benefit. Two campuses came together and will continue to come together in perpetuity. That rarely happens,” Jennings said.
Jennings said a goal of $25,000 was established — and met — to create the initial scholarship fund. That $25,000 mark is the point at which interest earned on the funds will pay for the scholarship itself.
As the scholarship regenerates each year, it guarantees that the $500 can be awarded to two students in perpetuity.
“It’s really a nice way to remember someone: to give to other people,” Jennings said.
She said her husband was the sort of professor who inspired students to pursue their dreams, and describes one of the first applicants for the scholarship.
“The student is a member of the LGBTQ community and has firsthand experience with undocumented immigrants. He decided on his path after taking Brian’s class and is now a poli-sci major at UC Berkeley,” Jennings said.
She went on to describe another standout applicant: a young student who had been told by her family that she didn’t have what it takes to become a lawyer. That student decided to lis ten to her professor, Jennings said, and pursue her passion… she now attends Berkeley law school.
Jennings said that her husband was a passionate teacher with a motto of ‘one life, live it’ who embraced adventure and was an advanced hiker, frequent backpack camper, and long-range bicyclist.
In April 2018 he was commuting home from work by bike and was fatally hit by a driver who fell asleep at the wheel of a car.
His wife says she has only two requests for people. First, she asks that everyone make choices to help keep cyclists safe on the road. Second, she asks that people follow Brian’s lifelong advice and live life everyday as much as possible.
“If there is something you really want to do, do it! Don’t put off joy or adventure,” Jennings said.