Helping Students Achieve Dreams

Former UO Quarterback Joey Harrington ’01 Provides Scholarships for “Community Quarterbacks.”

(Photo courtesy of the
Harrington Family Foundation)

Joey Harrington ’01 enjoyed an illustrious career as the quarterback of the University of Oregon football team. The legendary Duck: was 25-3 as a starter, notching a 3-0 record in bowl games with wins over Minnesota, Texas, and Colorado; threw for 6,911 yards and 59 touchdowns; won the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year award and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2001; was the third overall pick in the 2002 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions; and appeared on the cover of EA Sports’ NCAA Football 2003 video game.

Harrington was just as dominant within the Lundquist College of Business as he was at Autzen Stadium, too, earning a business administration degree and Pac-10 All-Academic Team honors during his time in Eugene.

And now Harrington, a leader both on the field and off, is working to identify other college-bound leaders throughout Oregon, regardless of whether or not they can throw a spiral that hits a wide receiver in stride.

Founded in 2003 by the former UO signal caller using part of his signing bonus from the Lions, the Harrington Family Foundation has raised more than $1 million for students in Oregon, and supports nonprofits that help in-state youth. This year, the foundation took a more direct route to helping students through the establishment of the “Oregon Community Quarterback Scholarship” program, which not only helps students continue their studies at a tertiary level, but provides them with mentors as well.

“That is a unique part of the scholarship,” Harrington said. “There are thousands of scholarships out there, but very few identify potential leaders in the community and give them access to current leaders.”

The four-year, renewable $2,500 scholarships will be awarded each year to four high school seniors who have achieved a high school diploma or GED; who will be staying in-state to attend a university, college, or trade school; and who demonstrate community leadership potential. Joey and wife Emily personally evaluated each of the 162 applications, and helped decide who received the scholarships.

(Photo: Eric Evans)

“That’s the fun part and the excruciating part,” Harrington said of reading the applications but also having to decide among the qualified applicants. “It’s all my wife, myself, and Nancy [Marshall], our executive director.”

The criteria was based 45 percent on the strength of a student’s application, 45 percent on financial need, and 10 percent on what the foundation describes as “something special,” regardless of the student’s GPA or SAT scores.

“It seems like, for the most part, kids that have that drive and focus and recognition of what’s important from an early age can apply that to school,” Harrington said.

The scholarship recipients have an impressive list of mentors to call on, too, with Harrington himself, former UO President and state attorney general Dave Frohnmayer, Nike Vice President of Design and Special Projects Tinker Hatfield ’76, and Dean of the University of Portland School of Nursing Joanne Warner among the group available to counsel the winners.

“I didn’t want to create an atmosphere where these kids are just getting a check in the mail,” Harrington said. “I want to create an atmosphere where they feel like they’re part of something, where they feel comfortable calling myself or the mentors for help or advice.”

The inaugural winners of the scholarships are Liam Rowley, a member of an immersion program that assists the homeless community who hopes to study engineering at Oregon State University; Jessica Trinh, who volunteers with Habitat For Humanity and the Goose Hollow Family Shelter and who plans on studying biology at Pacific University; Shawntell Michalke, who mentors high school freshmen and volunteers at Relay for Life and the Salvation Army and hopes to study nursing at the University of Portland; and Julianne Robinson, a Linn County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team volunteer and vice president of her local chapter of Future Farmers of America who intends to enroll in the Oregon State University Honors College to study mechanical engineering.

“The idea is to identify young leaders in-state and keep them in-state, and connect them to Oregon’s business leaders,” said Harrington. “If we can keep the best and brightest, then we’ll get a leg up.”