Jolene Hubbs ’99 “Returns the Favor” Through an Endowed Scholarship at Scripps

By Emily Glory Peters

Jolene Hubbs '99, scholarship creator, standing on a balcony at Scripps in the early 1990s.
Hubbs, shown here during her time at Scripps, will leave an endowed scholarship for future students

The world of academia has loomed large in the life of Jolene Hubbs ’99. After graduating from Scripps, she earned her master’s degree and PhD from Stanford University, and has taught American studies at the University of Alabama for more than a decade. Yet while she looks ahead to future projects—like the book she’s working on—she’s also reflecting on how to leave something behind for others.

“I was able to go Scripps because of a huge need-based financial aid package,” says Hubbs, who recently created an endowed scholarship to Scripps in her estate plans. “Now I’m able to return the favor, making it possible for someone else to do what I did.”

Hubbs chose to leave a scholarship because she knows how crucial they are in helping students maximize their college experience. As an undergraduate, she held a work-study position, a summer job, and had help from her parents, in addition to her financial aid. Need-based scholarships, she says, help ensure that students can immerse themselves in academic life.

“What a delight it is to get to help someone learn! And what a meaningful use of my money it is to help a student take the time to catch up with friends in the dining hall (which I absolutely loved), or to take the time to carefully complete all their reading for their classes, rather than rushing to off-campus employment after already putting in time at their work-study job,” she says. “It’s thanks to some of Scripps’ generous donors that I spent a few awe-struck days in my dorm room reading Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying for the first time. That was the first book I published an article on, and now to be able to support someone for their first reads at Scripps—there’s such a throughline.”

Scholarships also free up time for students to connect with Scripps faculty. Scripps’ Professor Emerita of English, Cheryl Walker, was especially influential for Hubbs. While she always knew she wanted to teach, Hubbs credits Walker with helping her love of Southern literature take root and advancing her pursuit of a similar career path.

“Cheryl was my advisor and I took almost every class she offered—I thought she was the best,” says Hubbs. “This summer I got a very sweet card from one of my former students who told me what an influence I had on her, that I pushed her to become a better writer—and that was what Cheryl Walker did for me. I think my vision of a professor was shaped by her.”

“What a delight it is to get to help someone learn!”

Hubbs’s experiences in graduate school and now as a professor herself also informed her choice to leave a planned gift, making clear to her that “behemoth” institutions often don’t have the same financial need as smaller liberal arts colleges like Scripps.

“Being a professor really influenced my decision. We’ve seen some small colleges struggle, and that’s on my mind as someone in higher ed,” she notes. “At Scripps, my money can make a difference.”

More than half of Scripps students currently rely on scholarships to attend. In recent years, the College has made significant headway replacing loans with grants for students with the highest financial need. Today, more than 10 percent of the student body receives completely loan-free packages—an achievement tied directly to donor generosity.

Endowed scholarships like Hubbs’s are especially powerful, giving Scripps the flexibility to help students in perpetuity. Left to the College after the donor passes, these kind of planned gifts can be made simply at any time—donors don’t necessarily need to wait until they’re older.

“For me, part of what’s appealing about planned giving is that I can make a difference even though I’m not a particularly wealthy individual. I love hearing those kinds of stories—like when a person who, by living frugally, is able to leave a sizable gift to an institution,” says Hubbs.

Acknowledging the deep and longstanding inequities in higher education, Hubbs recognizes her scholarship can’t fix every issue, but she also knows that financial support is essential to opening a Scripps education to a broader swath of students. Intended for any academically outstanding student, her scholarship will cast the widest possible net of support for future Scripps students with financial need—”from future writers and doctors to sculptors and economists.”

And that, says the professor, is the entire point.

Planned gifts ensure future Scripps College students lack nothing as they pursue their academic ambitions. To learn more about how you can leave a gift, please visit and contact us at [email protected].