Their Good Fortune
retirees Gary and Cynthia Bengier are not your typical
After earning advanced degrees, the husband and wife enjoyed lucrative
careers and retired in their forties. Gary, 48, helped take eBay public
as the online auctioneer's chief financial officer. Cynthia, 46, a former
Wells Fargo marketing vice president, worked closely with newly emerging
smart card technology.
Today, the Bengiers are taking classes at SFSU purely for pleasure. They've
found a way to relieve some of the stress for fellow students struggling
to earn degrees and pay the bills at the same time. This fall, 25 deserving
undergraduates will receive $1,000 scholarships, thanks to the Bengiers'
"The recession has hit the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area particularly
hard," says Gary, who holds an MBA from Harvard and is taking math
and science courses at SFSU. "We want to motivate and encourage bright
and hard-working students… to finish their degrees."
The Bengiers hope their donation prompts others to establish scholarships
for SFSU students with financial concerns.
"State offers affordable tuition but people forget how difficult
it can be to pay bills and rent in the city," says Cynthia, who earned
her bachelor's in marketing at SFSU in 1978, an MBA at New York University,
and is now pursuing her master's degree in history.
The Bengiers are enjoying life at a slower pace. In the height of their
careers, it wasn't unusual for Gary to pull a 100-hour work week. Cynthia,
her husband jokes, "was operating like a commuter shuttle" as
she flew to frequent meetings in Europe and Asia.
Now the couple globetrots with their daughter, a student at Colgate University,
and their six-year old son, who just made Premier Executive with United
The Bengiers are helping others expand their world view. At Kent State,
where Gary earned a bachelor's in computer science, they've established
a study-abroad fellowship.
For information on establishing University scholarships, please contact
the Office of University Development at 415/338-1042.