In many ways Harris Rosen is the living embodiment of the American Dream. Growing up in the ghetto, Rosen remembers, “stepping over people in the street on his way to school and passing homeless crowds huddled beneath the elevated train line overpass”. According to his mother, education was his ticket out of poverty.
Rosen took his mother’s advice and Hotel Administration at Cornell. After a stint with Walt Disney, Rosen took his last 20k and spent it on the down payment for a Quality Inn in Orlando. That Quality Inn became the first property of the Rosen Hotels and Resorts, a company that would administer 6,300 rooms, have 3,500 employees, and be valued at over $500 million.
The Gift of Education
Owing much of his success to his college education, Rosen wanted to pass the gift on to others. Rather than just creating a scholarship fun, the entrepreneur took things a step further. In 1993, he adopted a section of Orlando called Tangelo Park. For his adopted neighborhood, Rosen offered free preschool and a college education to graduates of the high school.
His efforts have helped transfer an area of Orlando that was known as run down and drug infested to an area that has a Grade-A elementary school and a high school where every senior graduates. Today Rosen has spent about $9 million dollars and provided college scholarships to approximately 200 students.
The Rosen Scholarships have not just transformed individual lives, they have transformed an entire neighborhood. When asked about the stopping point for his program, Rosen state, “I will be involved in the program until Tangelo Park is a gated community and the average home is selling for $1 million. Then I’m gone.”
The Lesson Here
If you frequent this site it is because student loans have become a major source of stress in your life. Even with as bad as the student loan crisis has gotten in this country, it is always important to keep one fact in mind. Education has value. It can change lives, and entire communities.
In less than one generation, a single guy has transformed an entire community because of the power of a free college education. Imagine what we as a nation could do.