Sherri and Barry Scarborough landed together at Troy State University in 1986 through a twist of fate and with the help of a Ford Ranger pickup truck.
Sherri came to TROY with her best friend from Haines City, Florida, after her friend had received a scholarship. However, just two days before classes were to start, Sherri’s friend left TROY to get married.
“I see her getting in the car with her much-older boyfriend and they went off and got married. I didn’t know anybody and was going to transfer, then I met some friends, had a blast and I found I loved TROY, so I made the decision to stay,” Sherri said.
It was after Sherri returned home for Christmas break, that Barry and his Ford Ranger came into play, having a much bigger role in the couple’s life than either could have known at the time. Sherri said she and Barry knew each other in high school and had dated some but broke up before their senior year. They knew each other’s family members and friends, but over that first Christmas break, they started to date again.
Sherri’s mother bought a dorm refrigerator and enlisted Barry to deliver it to TROY in his Ford Ranger.
“He unloaded the refrigerator and took it to my room and said, ‘where’s the admission’s office around here’,” she said. And that was the beginning of their story at TROY and life ever after.
“I knew I was going to go to college somewhere, and TROY seemed like a good idea once I got there and saw it,” Barry said. “Of course, Sherri being there probably didn’t hurt my decision-making process either,” he adds.
Both readily admit they had a lot of fun at TROY and that they both felt it was time to give back, hoping to make the TROY experience available to another student from Polk County, Florida.
They have established The Sherri Ingram Scarborough and Barry Scarborough Leadership Endowed Scholarship through a generous gift of $136,000 in stock, with preference given to students from Polk County with at least a 2.8 GPA. This scholarship will allow a student to receive a $5,000 annual scholarship and will be renewable for all four years of the student’s time at TROY.
“TROY is very appreciative of the Scarboroughs’ generosity for this endowed scholarship. It is an outstanding legacy for both of them to give to a deserving student and shows that Sherri and Barry truly understand the value and importance of experiencing college life as well as getting a top-notch education,” says Becky Watson, Associate Vice Chancellor of Development. “Sherri and Barry are a fun-loving couple, who clearly appreciated their time at TROY as well as their academics and professors and want to offer that same experience to other students. This gift will impact many generations of future TROY students and we are grateful to the Scarboroughs for their benevolence and love for Troy University.”
“We have the funds to do it, and I think it’s great to help a student go to school that otherwise couldn’t afford college,” said Sherri, now an attorney and partner in the law firm of Howell and Thornhill, P.A.
“We have been blessed with good fortune and good jobs, and I think we have always tried to give back. What better way than to give someone the resources to help make something of themselves. And that starts with the college degree,” she said.
Barry echoes these sentiments, adding that their desire was to make a scholarship available to a wider section of students that really needed the assistance, which is why they stipulated a 2.8 GPA. “Not all students test well, especially on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, so we wanted to make sure the students that really needed the assistance were eligible to receive the scholarship. It sort of evens the playing field for the applicants.”
After TROY, Barry built a 30-year career in the insurance industry as the marketing representative for the entire state of Florida for Rain and Hail Crop Insurance, from which he retired in 2018. He is now a third-generation owner of a Badcock Furniture franchise and also manages the family’s rental properties.
“TROY was definitely a big part of our early life together,” Barry said.
Part of that TROY-driven impact was social, and part of it academic for the Scarborough’s. Barry was president of the Lambda Chi Alpha pledge class and remained actively involved in the fraternity throughout his tenure. Sherri was a Lambda Chi Little Sister and played intramural sports with a Little Sisters team until her last year or two, when most Little Sisters had become affiliated with sororities. She was elected to Who’s Who her senior year. It wasn’t all fun and games for the pair though. They paid attention to their academics.
Sherri was one of very few economics majors, and Barry majored in marketing.
“(Professor Ed) Merkle was the one. I took him the most,” Sherri said. “He made me his economics tutor, but nobody really came to be tutored. I struck a deal with the accounting tutor to help with accounting and I’d help him with econ, so it worked out for the two of us.”
“I enjoyed TROY, and I like that it’s smaller. I wasn’t another number,” Sherri said. “The classes weren’t that big, and the teachers were really open.”
“Steve Garrott made the biggest impact on me in those marketing classes. I admired him and looked up to him, and Don Walker had a huge impact on me outside the classroom. He had faith in me,” Barry said.
Sherri was in the first graduating class of the Hawkins era in 1989. Barry graduated in the summer of 1990.
While the Scarboroughs now reside in Winter Haven, Florida, they say that Troy University is an important part of their legacy and start in life. “TROY had a big impact on both of our lives, and we wanted to make it available to students in Polk County. Lots of things shape your life and TROY was a big part of making us who we are,” Barry said. “We want to give that chance to someone else.”