For Seobarran James and Rajdai Elizabeth Outar, going to St. Joseph’s College as adults meant achieving two ideals: setting an example for their children and making a better life for their family.
“Education is never wasted. Knowledge gives you power and makes you a better person,” said Rajdai Elizabeth Outar ’96, who recently established a $25,000 scholarship at SJC Brooklyn in her and her late husband’s names. “You learn to see things differently when you’re educated. When you don’t have an education, you listen to what everyone else says, and they may be totally wrong.”
Seobarran James Outar earned a bachelor’s degree from SJC Brooklyn and was class valedictorian in 1986, graduating nine years after the couple and their three eldest children moved to Brooklyn from Guyana in 1977. They were among the tens of thousands of Guyanese who, amid political and economic uncertainty in the South American nation, emigrated to the United States during the 1970s and 1980s.
In the decade between their graduation years, three of the Outar children — Gail, Nigel and O’Neil — earned college degrees. The couple’s fourth child Neil, born in New York, earned his bachelor’s in 2000. All four Outar children hold advanced degrees.
“They were role models for the four of us — holding down jobs and putting us through school, while also pursuing their own degrees and professional careers,” said O’Neil Outar of Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
“By attending St. Joseph’s, my mother was setting the example for her children about the importance of education. It gave her immense confidence in her career and in her life.”
Mrs. Outar, 79, of Scottsdale, Arizona, worked as a nurse, first at the now-closed Cumberland Hospital and then at Jamaica Hospital, for decades. Her husband, who passed away in 2014 at 78, was an administrator at Woodhull Hospital.
If you can make one person’s life a little easier, it’s worth it.” —Rajdai Elizabeth Outar ’96
Noting the family’s humble beginning in America, in crowded Bushwick and Cypress Hills apartments, O’Neil said his mother is thrilled to have the opportunity to help make a quality education possible for a young person. The Seobarran James ’86 and Rajdai Elizabeth ’96 Outar Scholarship will be awarded to a first-generation college student at SJC Brooklyn.
“My mother wanted to honor the memory of my father,” O’Neil Outar said. “She liked the idea of supporting students who were very much like they were. The hope is that this will inspire others to give and support students.”
Generosity, Mr. Outar said, has always been part of his parents’ nature.
“Even while my parents were working full-time, going to school part-time and raising four children, they helped resettle 60 other family members in America,” he said. “They helped find them homes, pay their rent and provided them with clothing and other necessities.
“Underlying all of these things that they did was a core value of generosity. When my mom talked about wanting to leave a legacy to St. Joseph’s, it just coincided with their value set,” Mr. Outar added.
Mrs. Outar noted how happy she is to give the gift of education.
“If you can make one person’s life a little easier, it’s worth it,” she said. “Hopefully, it can be an incentive for others to give, and to know that they can make a difference in somebody’s life.”