The McDonald Family and Robert Leon Sharyon Endowments represent the unique way in which donor generosity can serve both immediate student needs while ensuring long-term institutional impact. Salish Kootenai College Foundation (SKCF) celebrates donor engagement through these unique scholarship funds and their support of SKC students’ educational and professional goals. Both the McDonald and Sharyon families have built strong roots within the College and local community that have prevailed for over four generations. SKCF recognizes that these endowments will continue to contribute to the success of SKC students who demonstrate leadership and influence locally, within their own Native communities, and within their professional networks.
The McDonald Family endowment was established in 1995 and has been developed as a source of motivation for SKC students and to memorialize the McDonald family members who have taken their journey on the Star Road. Friends, family, and members of the community have honored the McDonald family’s legacy of leadership and influence with contributions of their own over the years.
“The main reason Cynthie and I chose to donate to the McDonald Family endowment in the amount we did was to recognize Sherri McDonald’s lifelong contribution to the success of SKC; more specifically, this is to recognize both her dedication to helping students at SKC (by supporting Joe) and in her role as a leader in running the food bank in Ronan for many decades.” -Jay Preston (Donor and SKCF Board Member)
“The McDonald Family Endowment was established to provide continued scholarship assistance to students at Salish Kootenai College. Donors can contribute to the endowment in the honor of a McDonald family member who has passed away or to a living member of the family. The McDonald family members have always felt strongly about the importance of college and vocational education for the people in our community and our nation.” -Joe McDonald, SKC Founder, President Emeritus, and SKCF Board Member
In the 1930’s, Robert “Bob” Leon Sharyon and his parents moved to Ronan, MT where they established life-long friendships and a sense of community. Among these friendships was one between Bob and Joseph “Larry” Parker (Nez Pierce/Flathead). The relationship between Larry and Bob continued even after Bob moved away from the area and started his own family. Bob’s son Leon shares that they would often visit the Flathead area during their family vacations and he was later introduced to Larry at the Arlee Powwow where he participated in drumming for the dancers. This friendship deeply enriched the Sharyon family’s understanding and admiration for Native American culture.
The friendship of Larry Parker had a profound impact on the Sharyon family. As a result, Leon Sharyon has established a fund directed to Salish Kootenai College in recognition of his father who has passed on and would be proud that his family has endowed a scholarship in his honor. The scholarship will be named the Larry Parker Scholarship, Larry Parker the first full-blooded Native American to graduate from Ronan High School in 1936. He was one of the first Salish language teachers at Ronan High School.
“I believe that growing up on the Flathead Indian Reservation truly shaped the character of my father. He was keenly aware of the inequities faced by the tribal community and as a non-Native it deeply rooted in him a compassion and philosophy of fairness and equality. He lived those values truly and passed onto his family an awareness and profound appreciation of the Native culture. When we discovered Salish Kootenai College and the incredible story of how it was founded, we just knew our father would be filled with pride to support the Native community with access to scholarships.” - Leon Sharyon, son of Bob Sharyon.
To learn more about these endowments, scholarship opportunities and the Salish Kootenai College Foundation please visit: vision.skc.edu