A new program, offered through GReat Aspirations Scholarship Program, Inc. (GRASP), launched this fall at high schools in Virginia’s Northern Neck and Essex County which provides free, confidential, one-on-one, financial aid counseling to students seeking financial aid and scholarships for continuing education after high school – whether that includes technical school, community college or a four-year university. GRASP’s connection to the Northern Neck, however, began long before this year.
GRASP co-founder, Senator Walter Stosch, grew up on a working farm in Richmond County, Virginia. As a young person, he had little hope or expectation of going to college. His parents, though loving and concerned for their sons, simply did not have any resources to pay for education. As he tells the story, that situation was fine with him because he was not so sure that he wanted to finish high school. However, a teacher who saw something in him encouraged him to complete his high school education. This formed an early understanding of the impact one person can have in the life of a young person. Sometimes, such a person sees something in a young man or woman beyond what they may even believe possible. As the Korean War broke out, young Walter decided to follow his brother into service. His years in the Army serving as a medic opened his eyes to all the possibilities the world holds. Following this service, he married his sweetheart, Eleanor Herbert, from Westmoreland County. Walter enrolled in college at the University of Richmond which allowed him, as well as other veterans, to take remedial classes to prepare for the rigor of college courses. With hard work and financial resources, thanks to the G.I. Bill and side jobs, Walter earned a degree in accounting. He soon became a CPA, and success followed in the field of accounting where he rose to become managing partner at a major, private accounting firm in Virginia, Gary, Stosch, Walls and Company.
Today, we know Walter as Virginia’s State Senator Walter A. Stosch, President Pro Tempore and Co-Chairman, Finance Committee of the Senate of Virginia and retired partner of one of the largest CPA firms in the world, Deloitte. However, when he was recently at the Richmond County Fair, we saw that to the Warsaw crowd, he is still Walter, a local boy from the farm who, with a passion for education and hard work, became a true hometown success story.
Senator Walter A. Stosch remains committed to creating opportunities for other young people in Virginia who need help to achieve their success. GRASP’s professional advisors are assigned to 76 high schools, from central Virginia to the Northern Neck, to Bath and Highland counties in the west, and to Sussex and Brunswick counties in the south. These advisors, in collaboration with in-school counselors and career guidance professionals, assist students and their families in developing game plans for after high school. The organization that Senator Stosch co-founded, and for which he continues to volunteer, has helped over 31,000 young people in the Commonwealth with their journeys to higher education. Over the span of eight years, GRASP has yielded about $352 million dollars in post-secondary financial aid for students. So, a story that began on a farm in Richmond County has now come full circle.
Pictured: Senator Walter A. Stosch, GRASP co-founder and Richmond County native, second from right, with his brother, Paul, right, and new friends at the Richmond County Fair.