As a former classroom teacher, Judy Corso dedicated her career to molding young minds, enriching students' lives and giving them skills they need to succeed.
Her impact can be seen in the lives of countless Moore County elementary school students over her 25 years as an educator before retiring four years ago.
"Teaching is very rewarding," Corso said, "You get to be creative, and at the same time, help them shape their future. It was the perfect career choice for me."
Throughout her career, the fulfillment Corso found inspired her and her husband, Pat, to help improve education outcomes in the region by establishing the Pat & Judy Corso Endowed Scholarship at UNC Pembroke.
"Access to education is the very foundation on which UNCP was established, and we are fortunate to have supporters such as the Corsos who believe in our university and the School of Education and its mission," said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings.
"Their generous gift will influence the lives of its recipients and that of the future students they will go on to inspire and teach after completing their degree at UNCP. In a very real sense, this scholarship is a generational gift, and yet another way the Corsos’ support and leadership are making a real impact at UNCP and this region."
The Pinehurst couple pledged $25,000 to create the scholarship to be awarded annually to a student in the School of Education with financial need. Pat Corso, one of the most prominent leaders in Moore County's business community, has been providing quality leadership to UNCP as a member of the board of trustees since 2015 and is currently serving as chairman.
"UNCP is a very special place for us," Pat Corso said. "It has become a unique opportunity for us to serve and to give back. Judy was an educator. I was an educator briefly, so we've always have had an affinity for the profession, and we felt this was a great opportunity to encourage students to become teachers."
Dr. Loury Floyd, dean of the School of Education said the School of Education is honored to be the recipient of such a generous gift.
"Teaching is more than imparting knowledge–it is inspiring change. The Pat & Judy Corso Endowed Scholarship will bring relief to so many aspiring educators as they pursue their dream of becoming a teacher. I am excited to see the impact scholarship recipients will have in public schools across southeast North Carolina."
The Judy Corso influence is seen in the lives of many of her former students throughout the region, like Jeff Moody II who has remained in touch with his former teacher over the years. A Pinehurst chiropractor and two-time UNCP graduate, Moody can still remember singing a song about calamine lotion as a second-grade student at Pinehurst Elementary School.
"She was a very welcoming and warm-hearted teacher. She was like a second mom. She was caring and never showed favoritism. There was always an even playing field with her. She was overall a great person," Moody said.
For Judy, her passion for educating is a family affair and one deeply connected to her and Pat’s desire to make their community a better place. Her mother, Frances Garber, and her three sisters all enjoyed long careers in the classroom.
The majority of Pat Corso's career was spent in the resort and hospitality industry as the former president and CEO of Pinehurst Resort. He recently retired as executive director of Moore County Partners in Progress. He came to Moore County in 1986 and was instrumental in recruiting major championship golf events to Pinehurst, including the 1999 and 2005 U.S. Open Championships.
"Judy and I both agree the key differentiator for success in life is education," Pat Corso said. "To create that success, you must have wonderful people who have a passion for teaching and who are willing to make it a career. We are hoping this scholarship will help attract those kinds of students who believe education is a field worthy of exploration and a career."
Judy Corso agreed, adding, "It is very important to encourage great people who are creative and hardworking to considering teaching. It's a critical career. We hope this scholarship encourages someone who may be on edge to give it a try. It's not an easy job, but the difference you can make in students' lives–there's no better reward."