Tilmon F. Brown, BA ’93, BS ’93, knows the power of perseverance. Brown enrolled at the University at Buffalo in 1964 and was two years into his education when he needed to step away from his pharmaceutical studies to provide for his growing family. He took a job as a route salesman with Continental Baking Company in Buffalo, hustling to visit clients weekly. His persistence continued for the next 30 years, until he was corporate vice president and director of sales, eventually leaving to buy his own business and becoming CEO and owner of New Horizons Baking Company.
But perhaps his greatest act of persistence was going back to UB, nearly 30 years after he’d first enrolled, to obtain his degree, thus fulfilling a promise to his parents that a well-paying job would not prevent him from getting a degree and setting an example for his children. According to Brown, “I have never been more proud of any accomplishment in my life.”
In gratitude to UB for helping him complete his degree, Brown and his beloved late wife, Jonnie, who passed away in 2014, established the Tilmon F. Brown and Jonnie R. Brown Scholarship Fund, which provides support for UB students who are traditionally underrepresented minorities.
Although they no longer live in Buffalo, the entire Brown family has remained connected to UB through communication with the recipients of their scholarship. Seeing the impact their generosity has had on countless students has been extremely rewarding for Brown. “Education is a critical door-opener for the future,” he says. “And if our contribution helps these students improve their lives, that’s an obligation we can’t ignore.”
Ezekiel Arubuike (right), a senior majoring in political science and pre-law, is a prime example of how the Brown scholarship helps students persevere. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, Arubuike used funds from the scholarship to afford his housing, allowing him to continue his education at UB without interruption.