Jean Gotolski, a 1947 graduate of Fairmont State College has created a scholarship at her alma mater, in memory of J.T. and Carmer George. Through this endowed scholarship, Gotolski hopes that students can study their passions, regardless of their financial situations.
Gotolski began her schooling as an English major. Similar to many students she soon discovered it wasn’t for her. When compelled to make a change, she sought advice from her mother, who asked, “Jean, where do you spend your time?” As a student who was paying her way through school, $20 a semester at the time, this was an important choice to make. The answer was the pool. A lifelong swimmer, she quickly learned about physical education and was hooked.
Gotolski attended Fairmont State College during World War II and the depression. Her family lived across the street from campus, and she can remember her parents feeding students during their lunch periods. The college was all female at the time, except for a man who had been injured in the war. Many of her male classmates returned from the war during her junior and senior years. Gotolski commented that this gave women the opportunity to take leadership roles and become presidents of organizations that otherwise would have been filled by men. These opportunities allowed Gotolski to become a strong, knowledgeable woman with a dedication to education. Upon graduation, she proceeded to complete her master’s degree in physical education from West Virginia University.
Following her schooling she began teaching several courses at Ohio University including tap dancing, soccer and swimming. It was there that she met her husband, William, a civil engineer professor. William was awarded a position in Penn State University’s doctoral program, and the couple moved to State College, PA. Gotolski took a short break from her career to raise her two daughters, then returned to teach elementary physical education for the remainder of her career.
Gotolski has two daughters, who each have three sons, and one great grandchild. Her oldest daughter went to Penn State University and became an occupational therapist, her youngest daughter moved to Texas after graduating from Penn State Universityand spent her career as a physical education teacher like her mother.
Gotolski and her family have a lifelong commitment to education, and much of that family tradition began with opportunities afforded to her at Fairmont State. Gotolski stated that “Penn State was good to her but couldn’t compete with Fairmont, which is her home.” When asked what advice she would give current students, she replied “Enjoy it! Find a career that makes you say, I GET to go to work today!”