Blessing Paid Forward
As the eldest son of devout Catholics–a drama teacher and a homemaker in Salinas–Craig Ulrici ’61 had always studied hard and earned good grades. He applied to both St. Mary’s College and Santa Clara University, but even if he got in, they required the kind of money his parents didn’t have.
SCU was Ulrici’s first choice for a couple of reasons. He had visited a high school friend and mentor on campus, and was impressed by what he saw. The other connection was Ulrici’s uncle Patrick Heffernan ’38, who had distinguished himself at Santa Clara as a student body president and standout basketball player for the Broncos.
Ulrici took a chance and applied for financial aid to cover the University’s $3,500 price tag.
“That was like asking for $70,000 in today’s dollars,” he recalls.
To his great surprise, Santa Clara offered $2,000—enough so his summer jobs could pay the balance as he studied marketing and established a group of lifelong friends. Among them was a Fresno County classmate whose family owned the country’s largest cantaloupe farm, where Ulrici was later hired and began his agribusiness career.
A stint in the U.S. Army, a loving marriage, and a chance to invest in land that he and a partner turned into an almond and pistachio ranch all followed. Good fortune did, too–something Ulrici attributes to his years at Santa Clara, made possible by financial assistance from the University and its Jesuit-based education that, he says, “helped solidify my faith.”
The memory of that life-changing experience inspired the retired Central Valley rancher and his late wife Barbara to help other students without financial means to access SCU’s world-class education in the same way he had been helped.
The couple established the Craig Ulrici and Barbara Deal Ulrici Endowed Scholarship Fund, with preference for graduates of San Jose’s Sacred Heart Nativity Schools. Their gift is funded through their IRA Charitable Rollover and Charitable Gift Annuities.
“I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful without my experience at SCU,” says Ulrici. “I am very, very blessed.”