UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dr. James H. Carson, a former resident physician at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and Gail Graybill Carson, a 1986 graduate of the College of Agricultural Sciences, have created the Harold J. Carson Memorial Scholarship in the College of Agricultural Sciences to honor James “Jim” Carson’s father, a veteran and dairyman with a commitment to service, quality and excellence.
The scholarship, endowed with a $50,000 gift, will benefit undergraduate students enrolled in the college who have demonstrated financial need, with first preference given to those from Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
Harold J. Carson was a World War II Army veteran who spent two years in a prisoner-of-war camp after being shot down over Germany. He returned home after the war and married Jim’s mother, Jean Snyder Carson, and settled in Franklin County. During James’ childhood, Harold worked as a civilian in the U.S. Army but also had a second job at Arthur’s Dairy, a local Waynesboro dairy farm.
While Harold passed away when Jim was 9 years old, he had a profound influence on Jim’s life thanks to his dedication to hard work and doing things the right way no matter what.
“My father was a very skilled craftsman. The stone walls he put up around the property where I grew up are still there,” said Jim, who is an orthopedic surgeon. “At night while he worked on those walls, I would be there helping him by holding the light for him while he tapped and leveled. He’d routinely remind me, ‘Anything worth doing at all is worth doing right.’
“That advice followed me through college when I’d be tired and studying for a physical chemistry exam,” said Jim. “It stayed with me through my internship and residency at Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center. I’d often think that if I could hurry through something, I’d be able to get some sleep, but I’d hear that in my head, ‘If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing right.’ It always inspired me to do my best with everything.”
While Harold never attended Penn State (although he was an avid Nittany Lion fan), the work Jim remembers him doing at the local dairy inspired Jim and Gail to work with the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences to create a scholarship in his honor. The Carsons previously established a scholarship in 2016, the J. Clair Graybill Scholarship, in honor of Gail’s father. It is awarded to students in the college who have demonstrated financial need and are graduates of high schools in Lancaster County, where Gail grew up.
The Carsons hope the advice from Harold will resonate with the future recipients of the Harold J. Carson Memorial Scholarship because the Carsons both recognize the value of an education and career in agricultural sciences.
“I’m hoping the students who get this scholarship will do their best at everything they do just like my father,” said Jim Carson. “Being married to Gail, who grew up on a farm in Lancaster County, helped me see how agriculture touches so many areas of our lives that we don’t often think about. From food scientists to the farmers producing the raw materials and everyone in between, it’s important that everyone along the different pathways does their absolute best to get the best final product.”
In addition to their family ties to agriculture, the Carsons are passionate about sharing with others the blessings that they have received in their life.
“My father always taught us we should help those in need,” said Gail Carson. “My father made it clear that there are people who have need who wouldn’t be able to do everything we were able to do. It’s about passing it on.”
Both are actively involved in supporting a number of other organizations that benefit those in need, including the Pan-African Academy of Christian Surgeons, non-profits focused on fighting human trafficking, and their own nonprofit called Love Give Live, which creates innovative business ventures to provide funding streams for other nonprofit organizations.
“The ability to encourage other people, impact other people, and to try to provide an opportunity for people to get places they might not have been able to go otherwise, is really important to us,” said Jim Carson.
“We’re so pleased that the Carsons have chosen to honor their parents through the college, and we’re grateful for the confidence they’ve shown in us,” said Rick Roush, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences. “From the lessons in sacrifice and impacts of Harold J. Carson, as well as J. Clair Graybill, it is the college that is truly honored.”
The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences represents the foundation of Penn State and its land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, the University is pursuing “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” a fast-paced campaign focused on the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: open doors, create transformative experiences, and impact the world. Through teaching, research and Extension, and because of generous alumni and friends, the College of Agricultural Sciences is able to offer scholarships to one in four students, create life-shaping opportunities, and make a difference in the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about supporting the college, visit http://agsci.psu.edu/giving. Information about the campaign is available at greaterpennstate.psu.edu.
–Susan Bedsworth, Penn State University