John '81 and Karen Seymour-Jones Madison '80

John ’81 and Karen Seymour-Jones Madison ’80

June 25, 2019

We had such a positive experience at Bucknell. Once we were in a position to help the next generation, we seized the opportunity.

For John '81 and Karen Seymour-Jones Madison '80, Bucknell is part of the family. The couple met here — after a lucky No. 1 room pick allowed John to live on the same senior-year hall as Karen during his junior year — and they've strengthened their relationship with the University after graduation. They've served on boards for the Bucknell University Alumni Association and Bucknell Engineering Alumni Association, and continue volunteering for the University to this day.

Karen's uncle, Harold "Bud" W. Grahn, didn’t start out as a member of that family; he attended a state university on the GI Bill. But he grew closer to Bucknell through his long relationship with two of his best friends, William Bell '50 and William "Pat" Carey '50.

So when Grahn, who had no children, died leaving Karen to sell his house, the couple could think of no better use for some of the proceeds than to support scholarships at Bucknell, and welcome new generations into the family. Established by the Madisons in 2010, the Grahn, Bell, Carey Scholarship supports students with financial need, opening doors to a Bucknell education and leaving a permanent legacy for Grahn and his two friends.

"It was the GI Bill that enabled him to go on to college; without it he would have not been afforded that opportunity," Karen says of her uncle. "When he passed away, we really wanted to honor that and enable others to have that same opportunity."

The Madisons know firsthand the transformative effect a Bucknell education has in the life of a young person. They both landed jobs at manufacturer Corning Inc. right out of college — John in his field of chemical engineering and Karen, a psychology major, in marketing and later human resources. They continued with the company for their entire careers and enjoyed recruiting students to join Corning for internships and employment — launching their own paths to success after Bucknell.

"We had such a positive experience at Bucknell," John says. "Once we were in a position to help the next generation, we seized the opportunity. And we've also really enjoyed getting to know our students and being able to help them."

The Madisons say their endowed scholarship has added more members to their own Bucknell family. By attending the University's annual Scholarship Day event, they’ve become friends with Carey's nephew, J. Ronald "Star" Carey ’71, and his wife, Sandy, who are also donors to financial aid. They’ve also connected with the recipients of their scholarship, with whom they still keep in touch, and other young Bucknellians. It's an energizing experience, Karen says.

"One of the students we sat with on Scholarship Day had the same major as John, and we helped her connect with a summer internship," Karen says. "She’s now pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. We still hear from her periodically."

Scholarships and financial aid are Bucknell’s No. 1 fundraising priority.