MARIETTA, OH —Ethan and Susan Vessels are proud to live and work in the Mid-Ohio Valley. They understand the impact of philanthropic gifts that support the greater good and strengthen their community in an everlasting way. As a testament to their commitment to the future of this region, they chose to invest in the students of Washington State Community College (WSCC) through an endowed scholarship.
The Ethan and Susan Vessels Scholarship, designated specifically for Veteran students, is designed to honor those who share their experience in serving our country. Ethan Vessels, a successful Marietta trial attorney, as well as his wife, Susan, both served in the United States Army as intelligence officers.
“Many people enlist in the Army because they lack the means to go to college. The military is one of the few places you enter with nothing and literally make yourself into something. You can make it a career, or you can serve only a few years and leave. And then your life is changed completely,” explained Ethan Vessels. “So, we have a soft spot for enlisted soldiers, and that has grown more since we’ve been away from the Army.”
He noted that while some Veterans obtain transferrable skills they need to secure great jobs after completing their service, many soldiers conclude their service with combat skills that do not have the same application in the civilian world. Vessels noted that, as former soldiers, they have been taught discipline, leadership skills, and work ethic that will benefit their new academic pursuits. Pursuing further study at schools such as Washington State, they can apply this discipline to learn new skills sought by employers.
Both Ethan and Susan Vessels are graduates of the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Ethan is a 1995 graduate of West Point, and Susan graduated from Princeton in 1996.
Ethan Vessels said it would have been easy to focus their philanthropic giving on their alma maters. However, the couple wanted to focus on giving where the greatest need would be served. He explained their thought process about aligning their personal ideologies with the benefactor. “One of the difficulties in giving is that you have to agree with the philosophy of who you’re giving to… and that’s why we chose Washington State.” Vessels explained.
The Vessels family has strong ties to Washington State, as Susan is an active member of the WSCC Board of Trustees, and their 16-year-old son Aaron is enrolled full-time at the college through the College Credit Plus (CCP) program. These connections, combined with the institution’s overarching commitment to preparing students for in-demand jobs, made the college an easy choice.
Vessels emphasized the importance of return on investment in education, as many four-year college graduates find themselves burdened with crushing debt and few skills that truly prepare them for the workforce. With a much lower tuition, he credits Washington State with providing critical foundational courses while also giving students the skills to make them immediately employable upon graduation. “This is a service to both the individual student and to society at large. Many students later transfer all their credits and complete a bachelor’s degree with two additional years of study, dramatically reducing the educational price tag,” he explained.
The Ethan and Susan Vessels Scholarship will be awarded annually beginning next spring.