For Elaine H. Ko-Talmage ’60 and Dr. Sok Nam Ko ’58 Castleton University and the greater Vermont area hold cherished life memories. The two met on campus on the first day of student orientation, fell in love, and began to build their family and careers in the green mountain state and now, nearly 60 years later, the Ko family is giving back to the Spartan community in a significant way with the recent creation of the Elaine H. and Sok Nam Ko International Student Scholarship in memory of the late Dr. Ko.
Established through the Sok Nam Ko Educational Exchange Foundation, the Elaine H. and Sok Nam Ko International Student Scholarship will award funds annually to deserving international students attending Castleton, expanding the family’s longtime interest in and commitment to educational exchange. The newly created endowment emphasizes the importance of educational and cultural experiences, as well as community involvement and volunteerism.
“Castleton afforded us not only an education, but lifetime friends, inspiration, a beginning to married life, and a place to rest,” explained Elaine. “We hope this scholarship can bring an understanding of all cultures, peace, lasting friendships, and a good education through our favorite school.”
Dr. Ko began his journey to the United States in 1952, after leaving behind his home country of Korea. He went on to acquire his own oral surgery practice, while Elaine pursued a career in teaching and the pair raised four children. After his passing in 1991, Elaine started a foundation in Ko’s name to support high school students looking to explore educational opportunities abroad.
“Ko has always been an inspiration to me,” said Elaine. “After he died our family wanted to afford the same opportunity that he had coming to America to other students.”
In addition to their monetary award, each scholarship recipient at Castleton will be gifted a copy of Dr. Ko’s book The Way Back Home, which details his life in America and transition from Korea to rural Vermont.
“Our family misses his guidance, but he inspired us all to be better citizens and held education to a very high standard for life,” she said. “Castleton will always have a special place in our hearts.”