Gerald Long: Degrees Open Doors

Gerald Long remembers working a part-time job while attending the University of Houston. He also remembers his father making it very clear that a college education was mandatory. His parents never finished college and regretted it ever since, so Gerald’s dad made it a priority to be sure that the four Long children all ended up with degrees — and they did.

“That degree opened doors for us that we’d never have had,” Long said. “But it was a financial strain for my family to afford to send four kids to college. Mom and Dad weren’t able to help us with the majority of the expenses, so we had to get jobs to help out.”

Long doesn’t regret the work and sacrifice, and he’s grateful for the help he got as a student. And when he heard a teen talking about how college wasn’t going to work out, he started thinking.

“This young man was clearly college material, but he couldn’t go because of the cost. It brought back memories, and it broke my heart. And that was the beginning of the Long Family Scholarship at the University of Houston.”

Long said that this is something he’s wanted to do for a long time, and he has incorporated it as a part of his estate planning. While he is planning to leave money to UH as part of his estate, he wants to donate now to0 see the benefits of his work in action. Long has directed that his donations benefit the Cullen College of Engineering. He leaves it to the dean and staff to determine the recipients.

“I’m reaping the benefits now,” Long said. “I feel so blessed knowing that I helped six kids make it to college this year, and they can focus on learning, rather than making ends meet.”

Long says there’s a real satisfaction of knowing that right now you’re making a difference. “It’s a payback sort of thing,” he said. “Helping others succeed matters. If your situation allows, the advantage of doing part of your estate donation while you’re still living is that you can help not just kids of the future, but kids right now. UH has many kids in working families who could really benefit from funds to help make education possible. It’s real-life people benefiting today.”