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Alumni Couple Honor Mother, Sister | SUNY Plattsburgh

The generosity of Dr. Andrea “Jodi” Westcott ’70 and her husband, John Westcott ’70, of Westminster, Colo., who met while classmates, will provide local students with an opportunity to attend SUNY Plattsburgh for years to come.

The Dr. Jo S. Pahopin and Linda K. Christbaum Endowed North Country Scholarship is named in memory of Jodi’s late mother, Dr.  Jo S. Pahopin, who was dean of the home economics department in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, and John’s late sister, Linda K. Christbaum. The endowed scholarship will be funded in the future through a bequest from the Westcotts.

A Life-Long Passion

“Mom’s one abiding and life-long passion was to enable deserving students to gain a fine education; it had changed her life, and she believed in ‘paying that forward,’” Jodi said of her mother.

Pahopin came to Plattsburgh from San Diego State University. After Plattsburgh, she went on to work as a vice president at Keuka College in New York and at Pima College in Tucson, Ariz., from which she later retired. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

When Pahopin died on Feb. 18, 2014, her daughter asked that memorial donations in her mother’s name be made to the Plattsburgh College Foundation and designated for the North Country Scholarship program. The program provides scholarships for qualified students who graduated from high schools in the seven counties of the North Country region and attend SUNY Plattsburgh.

Sadly, a few weeks later the Westcotts suffered a second loss when John’s sister, Linda K. Christbaum, unexpectedly passed away in western New York. The deaths in such quick succession led the couple to take the long view of how they wanted to be remembered and how to allocate their assets when they died.

Making the World a Better Place

As family and friends gathered to remember the two “strong, talented, hardworking, generous and loving individuals who made the world a better place in many ways – large and small,” the Westcotts decided to celebrate the women’s lives, rather than mourn their deaths.

“It was a glorious summer afternoon and evening, filled with fun, laughter, some tears, and a lot of love, and Linda and Dr. Jo would have enjoyed every moment. In a sense, our decision to provide scholarship funds to assist future college students was a natural outgrowth of that day – a way for us to keep the celebration alive for many years to come,” Jodi said.

“Since we are not wealthy, we decided to divide our estate’s assets into three parts:  one for family and friends, one for a favorite nonprofit in Colorado, and one for an educational institution.”

Although they and their family members received degrees from several universities, they chose the North Country Scholarship Fund “because we received our undergraduate degrees at Plattsburgh, and Dr. Jo was a teacher and administrator there for a number of years. In addition, Linda was a retired art teacher, and I am a retired professor, so education has always been very important to our family. Without scholarships and grants, Dr. Jo, Linda, and John would not have been able to attend college, so we wanted our gift to help future deserving college students to pursue their dreams and goals,” Jodi said.

Paying It Forward

The Plattsburgh College Foundation recognizes the Westcotts’ generous bequest to the North Country Scholarship program as transformational.

“This gift of education from the Westcotts is truly paying it forward and, in the future, we hope will inspire students to do the same,” said Faith Long G’01, director for development.

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