Bobbi [Jarvis] Mason (left), and Greta [Magnuson] Shawstad (right) became friends during their time at MSUM in the 1960s. When Greta passed way, Bobbi started a scholarship in her honor.
Elementary Education majors Bobbi (Jarvis) Mason and Greta (Magnuson) Shawstad met by chance at MSUM in the 1960s, but their friendship became anything but ordinary. Alphabetical seating charts forced them to sit by one another in many classes, which led to them studying together, and a friendship blossomed from there. The pair graduated from college and went their separate ways. Bobbi married her husband, who was in the Air Force, and the couple lived all over the world. Greta, on the other hand, got married to her husband and stayed in Moorhead. Distance didn't hinder their friendship though, as they exchanged letters and phone calls to stay in touch. "We got engaged around the same time, planned our weddings around the same time, and had kids around the same time," Bobbi said. "All of the milestones in life, we did together."
When Greta died suddenly in 2007, Bobbi was living in California. She wanted to travel there to say a final goodbye to her friend, but didn't think it would be financially feasible. Instead, she and her husband pooled all the money she could and started a scholarship at MSUM in her friend's name. Teachers Greta had worked with during her career took up a grief offering and others also donated money to the fund, which became the Greta (Magnuson) Shawstad Memorial Endowed Scholarship. "The goal was to honor Greta and to turn a negative into a positive. I can't bring her back, but I can honor her," Bobbi said.
Bobbi encourages others to think about starting scholarships, and believes anyone is capable of giving back. Recently, she and her husband became members of the MSUM Alumni Foundation's Legacy Society by agreeing to provide a future gift, as designated in their wills. For her, giving back is something that has been instilled in her from her father, who was a local businessman and very active member of the community. His motto was, "Do not expect to get anything out of your community unless you contribute to it," and Bobbi hopes she is doing her father proud. "This scholarship was built from a dollar here and a dollar there," she said. "You don't have to be rich. If I can do it, anyone can do it."
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