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Looking Back, Paying Forward

Gretchen and Travis Hodgdon
Gretchen and Travis Hodgdon

Travis Hodgdon ’94 remembers where he came from, and wants to help others get where they are going. The first in his family to attend college, Travis worked as an EMT out of high school and then served a tour of duty in the US Navy before enrolling at Keene State College at age 25. His sights were set on a biology degree and medical school, but it was a history professor who, he says, made a lasting impression on him.

That professor was the late David Leinster, a fellow Navy veteran who taught at Keene State from 1966 until his retirement in 1998. Professor Leinster is fondly remembered by students and fellow faculty members for his commitment to sharing his knowledge, and encouraging students who were military veterans and those who were the first in their families to attend college. As Travis describes it, “I really knew I was in college when sitting in Professor Leinster’s room in early September, 1989.”

Travis reports that between the GI Bill, work study and scholarships, he graduated from college debt free, but he knows students today aren’t always so fortunate. To honor the memory of Professor Leinster, and to ease the burden of student debt now and in the future for Keene State students, Travis and his wife, Gretchen Hodgdon, have established the David R. Leinster Memorial Scholarship. Military veterans from New Hampshire who are first-generation college students are eligible for this need-based award.

A few years ago, Travis and Gretchen also established the “Never Too Late” Scholarship for Biology and Nursing majors, in recognition of Travis’s nontraditional timing to attend college. Travis explains their decision to create endowed scholarships this way: “I always feel that Keene State was a great value. I am a very practical person – I loved the time I was there and Keene got me where I wanted to go. I’m a lucky guy in so many ways.”

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