Yarberry-Blumenthal Endowed Scholarship

A message from donor John Montana:
“Dr. Blumenthal was a professor at the Sturm College of Law. Dr. Yarberry was a professor of music at Metropolitan State College, now Metropolitan State University. I was not one of Dr. Yarberry’s star music students, I wasn’t even music major. I was his work-study student, managing the music library and setting up stands and chairs for performances. And that is how I met Dr. Blumenthal. He was a trombone player, as was Dr. Yarberry, and they had a brass quintet that performed at Metro State from time to time, for which performances I was the stand and chair setter-upper.

I’m the first member of my family to graduate from college. I come from a long line of working poor and blue-collar workers in the impoverished little town of Walsenburg, Colorado, a place where academic achievement was not and is not highly prized. Unsurprisingly, getting to college and graduating didn’t come easy. Until I was 30, I predictably worked an assortment of physically demanding and mostly not-well-paying blue-collar jobs – janitor, warehouseman, truck driver, construction laborer, railroad laborer and the like. I went to college in large part because the economy was so terrible I couldn’t find a job. And when I got there, I was completely clueless about how it all worked and what I was supposed to do. So, I wasn’t the most promising candidate in the world for success, either in college or in life. But to my surprise and the surprise of many others, I thrived and graduated from Metro State with a degree in geology.

By traditional measures, neither Dr. Yarberry nor Dr. Blumenthal owed me much of anything. Dr. Yarberry was not by virtue of our relationship a formal mentor of mine, and Dr. Blumenthal barely knew me. Nonetheless, when I decided I would try to attend law school, they did a marvelous thing for me. I asked Dr. Yarberry to write a letter of recommendation, which he did. But for reasons never explained to me, he did very much more. He reached out to Dr. Blumenthal and the two of them did something magical. They not only got me accepted into the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver but also obtained for me a very significant financial aid package that was key in permitting me to attend law school. I most probably would not have been accepted into the College without their good offices – I was merely one of the thousands of applicants, and by no means among the most qualified — but most certainly I could not have and would not have received that aid package without their intervention. And without both, I could not have attended.

What they did for me turned out to be a gift of incalculable value. It is no exaggeration to say that the things that flowed from that gift – my law degree, my professional license, and my entire subsequent career – completely changed my life, in ways that I could not have imagined beforehand. On my 29th birthday, I was broke, out of a job, and with no useful skills, and before my 39th, I was a licensed attorney, standing in a courtroom trying a case. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that possible. No one who knew me before all of this would ever have imagined it. I suppose that the two of them saw something in me – I cannot imagine what – but why they chose me out of the thousands of students that passed through those two schools remains a mystery to me to this day. In all of this, this, I owe much to the Metro State Community, and to Dr. Yarberry. Metro was a place where I could fit in and find success, where other places I very well may not have — I was, after all, by any rational standard of measure a most unlikely candidate for success. And marvelously, the education I got at Metro left me fully prepared to compete with Ivy League Graduates at a top law school, where I graduated near the top of my class. For me, and people like me, Metro is a Godsend. Dr. Yarberry was chief among many of the staff and faculty of Metro State who made all of this possible. Because of our working relationship, we had the opportunity to spend many hours talking, and he became my mentor in fact, if not in name. And with neither an obligation to do so nor any possibility of repayment by me, he did the things that he did to push me forward to the next level. One day, I asked Dr. Blumenthal what I might do to repay this wonderful gift. He replied simply that I should pass the gift to others. I know Dr. Yarberry shared this sentiment also. And so I have tried. In a little town in Africa, there is a computer classroom named for the two good Doctors and a number of young girls who are able to attend school because of their generosity.

And so you and I are here today, also as a consequence of their generosity. The scholarship money that is being given to you flows directly from it, and I hope and trust that it will affect your life in the way that it has affected mine.
I hope also that as you pass through your college and professional careers, you’ll have time now and again to consider the kindness of these two good men and how it has come down through the generations to you. And I hope also that you’ll consider doing the same thing that they did: extending a helping hand to someone who needs it, and to whom you owe no obligation or duty, to help them succeed. If you do, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your good work will pass through the generations likewise.

Before you leave Metro State, consider taking a few moments to write a page or two to add to this. Your story is worth telling, and your successors, of whom there will be many, will be interested in knowing about you.
Oh, and do one more thing: think big. The two good Doctors helped push my life in directions I’d never have thought of, and to a level of success in life, I’d not have thought possible. Now it’s your turn: use your college career as a stepping-stone to achieving the great things that are within you.”

The scholarship recipient shall:
• Be meeting MSU Denver’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements and cannot be in default or owe any refund/repayment of federal, state or institutional aid.
• Be a sophomore.
• Have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.
• Be taking 6 or more credit hours during the semester(s) the scholarship is received.

If the criteria are met, the scholarship should be renewed until graduation for a maximum of 8 semesters (contingent on available funds).
The donor has a preference to support students who are experiencing difficult personal circumstances.