USC Upstate Employee’s ‘Bold’ Gift Creates Scholarship for Informatics Students

April 27, 2021 at 10:52 am

University of South Carolina Upstate Prospect Researcher Bobby R. Painter Jr. surprised his friends and colleagues on the university’s inaugural Day of Giving by establishing an annual scholarship in partnership with the USC Upstate Foundation.

“We were all a bit amazed,” said Erin Callicott, Donor Relations and Stewardship Coordinator for University Advancement. “Everyone in the office knows Bobby has a heart of gold. He shows us that every day. While his gift was certainly a surprise, we are not shocked it came from him given his great capacity for caring for others. We are very grateful.”

Painter’s scholarship, The Scholarship for Informatics Excellence, benefits two full-time students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in an Informatics field, with majors in either Information Management Systems or Health Informatics, maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA, with special preference given to first-generation college students whose mother and father did not attend university.

“Working in University Advancement, it would be untrue if I didn’t admit that I wanted our inaugural Day of Giving to be a huge success,” Painter said. “But beyond that, giving begets giving. Philanthropy inspires philanthropy. We cannot tell our community how much we love USC Upstate if our financial commitment doesn’t match our admiration. No other day seemed more impactful to make my statement clear.”

Painter, a first-generation graduate of the University of Mississippi, has spent the past 22 years establishing a successful career analyzing and managing donor data for non-profit organizations across the country. In April 2019, Painter joined USC Upstate’s Advancement team to improve donor data health and conduct prospect research and donor management. He has led an employment program for students seeking a paid experiential learning opportunity in prospect research and data integrity.

Painter, who has actively pursued opportunities to help others, said he developed the idea for his most recent gift after recognizing not only the university’s need for scholarships aiding students seeking entry into fast-growing, high-earning careers in the Informatics field, but also the training needs of his student employees.

“I must say that my current student employee Guillermo Del Rey was my inspiration,” Painter said. “He is an Informatics student who loves data and its extrapolation. There was nothing really like an Informatics degree when I was his age. I felt the urge to give back to a new generation by helping them chip away at the great financial burden of becoming data scientists. I want recipients to know there is someone who will always cheer them on.”

Kim Jolley, Interim Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and Executive Director for the USC Upstate Foundations, took leadership of the Advancement team at the start of the pandemic.  She noticed Painter’s natural capacity for caring for others from the very beginning.

“Bobby has a genuine affinity for the students that work for him,” Jolley said. “He is a great mentor, but he goes a step further. He takes a personal interest in each of these students. Bobby wants them to succeed not only in the work they do for him, but also in life. With The Scholarship for Informatics Excellence, Bobby is putting his money where his mouth is by creating a scholarship that will assist students in obtaining a degree in the field that he has made his career. Generous donors like Bobby have the opportunity to impact USC Upstate students in a big way. We are thankful for Bobby’s bold gift!”

Although the scholarship has a preference given to first-generation students, the scholarship is open to all Informatics students who meet the criteria.

“As a first-generation college student, I just think that hurdle is a little bit higher and wider than the one for students whose parents have finished college,” Painter said. “First-generation students often experience college based on hearsay rather than firsthand guidance. Because no one else in their family has ever completed a degree, it is often easy to fall prey to negative thinking. ‘If I don’t make it, it doesn’t matter. No one else in my family did either.’ The scholarship is a small boost to say someone out there believes in you.”

When asked what he hopes this scholarship will do for others, Painter said, “I understand that a $1,000 scholarship is only a drop in the bucket to the overall cost of students’ college tuition over the course of four years. Therefore, I mainly want them to feel encouraged. This gift is a ‘Way to go!’ for doing one’s best in a field one hopes to pursue for a lifetime.”

Painter’s Scholarship for Informatics Excellence will be made available to students once the pledge is complete.

On behalf of the USC Upstate Foundation and the entire University, thank you, Bobby, for contributing to the historic success that was USC Upstate’s inaugural Day of Giving and supporting Informatics students of the College of Science and Technology in this meaningful and encouraging way.