Jonathan Diehl wanted to be an example for generations of future construction management students at Montgomery College. He wanted them to know that success isn’t always waiting patiently for us, and that second and third chances may be the perfect time to seize a newfound opportunity.
Jonathan, an MC alumnus, passed away on June 13, 2019. On October 21, the College held a celebration of life in his honor. The date was auspicious: it was Jonathan’s birthday. He would have been 29 years old. At the event, members of the MC community were invited to celebrate Jonathan’s life and “witness the birth of a legacy,” as Cristina Rabadán-Diehl and Michael Diehl announced the establishment of two scholarships in their son’s memory.
The current Jonathan Diehl Scholarship will provide grants of $1,250 for all six semesters of 2020 through 2022; and beginning in 2023, The Jonathan Diehl Endowed Scholarship will exist in perpetuity for generations to come. Both scholarships will be awarded to students in MC’s construction management program who demonstrate financial need.
“As a young adult, Jonathan was unsure of what he wanted to do, but once he found the construction management program at MC, he became much more focused and hopeful for the future,” said Jonathan’s father, Michael.
For Cristina and Michael, the decision to establish an endowed scholarship for construction management students at MC felt right, as community college held such a strong place in the Diehl’s family history.
“Montgomery College gave Jonathan second chances; it was patient with him while he found his way, and it gave him opportunities to grow as a person and as a professional,” Michael said. “He wanted to give back to the College and the students. That’s why it is so important to us to create this scholarship in his name at Montgomery College.”
Jonathan earned his A.A. from MC, then went on to the Universities at Shady Grove to pursue a B.A. in construction management. His parents have strong recollections of Jonathan speaking about how critical the MC experience was for him, and how much he wanted to give back.
“He told us he wanted to tell students not to get discouraged, not to waste time (as he felt he wasted some of his), that construction management was a great profession, and to never give up,” Cristina said. “He told me: ‘Mom, I want them to look at me, to listen to my story. They can do what I did. I am a success story.’”
Jonathan’s parents credit his MC professor and academic advisor, Mario Parcan, as one of the reasons Jonathan was able to succeed.
“Mario, your commitment to teaching, to guiding and supporting Jonathan in the years he studied here are true examples of the vocation of love,” said Cristina, addressing Professor Parcan during the celebration of life.
From day one in his class, Parcan saw Jonathan as “a student who has what it takes.” Jonathan was appointed vice president of MC’s Student Construction Association. Under Parcan, Jonathan and his team went on to become national champions in the Construction Management Competition, beating out all four-year college students. It was a feat Parcan compared to “Montgomery College beating Ohio State in football!”
For Cristina and Michael, the decision to establish an endowed scholarship for construction management students at MC felt right, as community college held such a strong place in the Diehl’s family history. Not only did Jonathan’s uncle and cousins attend community college, his grandfather taught at a community college for more than 30 years. And, construction management seemed to be in Jonathan’s blood from the beginning: he was building towers out of cartons before the age of one.
Besides being a family man, a supportive friend, a thinker, and a builder, Jonathan was also someone who felt things deeply. In the words of Joyce Matthews, vice president for development and alumni relations/executive director of the MC Foundation, Jonathan “didn’t walk through life with blinders on. He paused, he reflected, and he paid attention. He saw the beauty that other people missed.”
This is why the College has also dedicated a tree, planted along the path Jonathan used to take to class, in his honor.
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“I know that each time I and so many others walk by his tree, I will be thankful that Jonathan was a part of this family, and that we have the opportunity on this day to celebrate his life and the legacy that he leaves behind,” said Dr. Pollard during her closing remarks at the event.