Randy Ho: The Ultimate Return on Scholarship Investment
Randy Ho is grateful to so many people and programs for the start he is having in life—but Gary and Leslie (EMBA ’03) Howard are at the very top of the list.
Thanks to the Howards, Ho said, he has gained confidence, stayed in school, learned to play hockey, sung on stage and started a support group on campus for first-generation students. 1GenU is now a full-blown University initiative that has funding and administrative support.
“I can’t thank Gary and Leslie enough,” said Ho, who hopes to tour the world one day as an opera singer. “They provide me with the chance to live my dreams.”
After attending elementary school in Denver’s Westwood Projects neighborhood, Ho gained entrance to the Denver School of the Arts because of his singing talent. He also participated in Denver’s Bridge Project, which supports kids who live in Denver public housing in achieving their academic potential and graduating from high school.
Ho will graduate from DU in 2020 with a double major in Music Performance and Voice from the Lamont School of Music and in Marketing from the Daniels College of Business. He will leave DU a better place.
“It’s my civic duty to help others,” said Ho, who as a first-year student lived in the Social Justice Living Learning Community. That’s where he came up with the idea to create a support group for first-generation students. 1GenU is now a four-year developmental program for students and their families that includes mentorship and academic and social resources. Students may choose to live together as a cohort in a DU residence hall.
Now Ho also donates his time to singing, raises money through his fraternity and is helping lead a new student philanthropy effort at DU that will create a culture of giving for the next generation.
Thanks to the Howards, Ho said, he has gained confidence, stayed in school, learned to play hockey, sung on stage and started a support group on campus for first-generation
“Randy is a very talented and motivated guy,” said Gary Howard. “To see him play hockey, stay with the passion, work year after year and go on to excel at the level he has at DU—he’s clearly exceptional.”
In 2001, the Howards started the Gary and Leslie Howard Family Foundation, which provides scholarships to students with financial need and academic promise who want to study business at the University of Denver or Colorado State University, Gary’s alma mater. Now, at any given time, the Howards are providing partial scholarships to about 30 college students, about a third of whom are at DU.
The Howards also created Miracles on Ice, a week-long nonprofit summer camp that introduces ice hockey skills and values to Bridge Project teens. As they watch campers develop hockey skills, a work ethic and a sense of accomplishment, they occasionally form a strong bond with a family, like Randy’s, and their support continues over many years.
“Randy loved skating, and he loved working hard,” Howard said. “Now he’s a coach for us, and he helps in the classroom. He can relate to the kids in a way other people can’t. And he’s modest.
“For example, I bet he hasn’t told you this: On the last day of camp, when the kids suit up in full Avalanche dress and play their game on the DU rink, he skates out to the center of the ice and right there, under the Jumbotron, he belts out the national anthem. A cappella. And he does it like it’s nothing.”