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Donor Story

Paying It Forward—40 Years and Counting

Alumni Couple among Elite Group of “Forever” Donors to Presidential Scholarship Program

Posted December 13, 2016

In 1976, UNM alumni Carolyn (BSED ’67) and Thomas (Tom) Minton (BSME ’68) received a letter from the University explaining that it “wanted to start an academic scholarship program for New Mexico high schoolers,” Carolyn remembers. In large part because of Tom’s positive experience with his UNM scholarship—and the relationship he developed with the brothers who funded it in their mother’s memory—it was an easy decision to pitch in. Each year thereafter the Mintons received another appeal, and each time they gladly contributed.

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Carolyn and Tom Minton pose with their scholar, Loisse Ledres, during a PSP mixer last November. Photo: Jodi Newton

This year marks 40 years since that first letter arrived—and the Mintons have never missed an opportunity to support what became UNM’s Presidential Scholarship Program (PSP), sponsoring many scholars through their annual gifts over the years. About seven years ago, the couple decided to endow a Presidential Scholarship and have been contributing to it ever since.

Right out of UNM, Tom was recruited by Shell Oil Company, and the couple moved to Southern California for his first job; Carolyn taught elementary school there as well. “I worked in engineering at Shell for the first 10 years,” said Tom. A series of promotions took him to other areas of the company, and he and Carolyn moved around the country with each new opportunity. “After 35 years with Shell, I retired in 2003,” Tom said. Not only did Shell provide Tom with a fulfilling career, it also matched his and Carolyn’s giving to the PSP through the years.

After Tom retired, the couple moved to Santa Fe, where Carolyn had graduated high school; Tom had grown up in Taos. Once settled in Santa Fe, Tom recalled, “I just couldn’t sit still,” so the lifelong skier began working for the Santa Fe Ski Patrol after getting his EMT license—and he still does.

Because the Mintons lived outside of New Mexico during Tom’s career, they weren’t able to attend the annual PSP dinners in the early years, but instead would send their family or friends to sit with their scholar. “Since we’ve moved to Santa Fe, we’ve been attending the PSP dinner every year and really enjoy it,” said Tom.

“I had a great experience at UNM,” said Tom, “and I graduated without a penny of debt because of my scholarship.” Carolyn recalled how her and Tom’s paths first crossed at UNM: “We met during fraternity-sorority rush our freshman year and ended up in an English class together.” This July, the Mintons will celebrate their 49th anniversary. They have one daughter and a granddaughter.

Tom and Carolyn remain big fans of the PSP, and have enjoyed the letters they’ve received from their scholars through the years. “Many of the letters express how appreciative the students are for our support,” said Tom, “and that the pressures of college are so much less because they need not worry about how they’re going to pay for tuition and related expenses. The PSP allows students to experience everything that college offers, and to just enjoy it.” Just like he did.

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