Helping hard-working young people to succeed: A donor’s story

Helping hard-working young people to succeed: A donor’s story


Joseph Jacques Welcome all Scholarship donors, and most importantly, congratulations to all the Scholarship recipients.

I was asked to speak on why I gave accounting scholarships to Bloomsburg. For me it was a matter of "Helping hard-working young people to succeed."

When I made the donation, I was very specific that grades would not be a key criterion for awarding the scholarship. Instead, I wanted this scholarship to be awarded on determination and that the recipient showed a pattern of hard work.

I believe the key to a successful career is a willingness to work hard.

The main message I want you to take away from this speech is a simple saying which I tell my kids all the time: "Working hard does not guarantee success. But if you do NOT work hard, you will never become successful." I hate to admit this, but when I was in elementary and later in high school, I wanted to be a "smart" kid. I believed that all the "smart" kids were naturally brilliant, and did not have to study. So they told me. Well, I wanted to be a "smart" kid, so I didn't study. Through elementary and high school, I averaged a strong low-C average. And so I believed that I was not capable of being a smart kid.

So what changed?

For one of my last courses in high school I took a bookkeeping course, which was designated as one of those in a "non-academic" curriculum. Because both my parents and my teachers thought that after high school, I would probably be working in a factory. I really liked the course, and found out that I was good at it. Then a funny thing happened: the harder I studied, the better I did. A light bulb went on. All these years, trying to emulate "smart" kids, the simple formula for success was hard work.

The harder I worked, the better I did. "WOW!"

After graduation, I went on to the only college I could get into, a community college, and then went on to be accepted into Bloomsburg. At both, continuing my new path of hard work and study, I made the Dean's List. Then in my career as a tax account and later as a financial advisor, I found out that the harder I worked, the more I continued to surpass my competition.

I also found out that the definition of being lucky was when preparation & opportunity came together. As an example, when I was still trying to decide what direction I wanted my career to take, I continued my education by taking some Financial Planning courses. There I met a gentleman named Bill Wallace, who was heading a large Financial Planning company. Knowing that I had a detailed tax background and was considering financial planning, he asked me to come join his firm to head up his financial planning operations. Had I not continued to educate myself, this opportunity would never have been presented.

So you can see why my scholarships try to identify hard-working young adults whom I believe will be successful. As you heard, I was a "C" student until I learned to work hard.

Last year when I met the first recipient of the Joe and Joy Accounting Scholarship, Mr. Daniel Schellhamer, I could not have been more proud. I believe that he fits all of the criteria of being a hard worker. This concept applies to all occupations.

To wrap this up, all of us donors here expect all of you scholarship recipients to work hard, and to do your best. Because if you do... You will be successful, I guarantee it.

    Joseph Jacques ’74, CPA, CFP, president of Jacques Financial, LLC