When Regina (Gina) Hitcho Garretson ‘69/’72 MA began her undergraduate degree at Bloomsburg, she discovered her deep passion for special education. Her time at BU fostered her love for helping students with special needs and would propel her into a great career.
Gina had very little money to support her academic endeavors as the first person to attend college in her blue-collar family. But, she was fortunate enough to receive scholarship funds to help her along as she covered the rest by working through school.

While pursuing her master’s degree in 1972, Gina presented a partial fulfillment of the Master of Education degree requirements at what was then Bloomsburg State College. She achieved an A- on her thesis, which was just one of her many accomplishments during her academic career.
After graduation, Gina started her career at the PennHurst State School, and once that closed, she worked at the North Penn Intermediate Unit. Over the years, Gina’s work with her many students displayed the tender-heartedness that made her such a special person. Her students loved her caring spirit, and they responded very well to her teaching. At times, she served not just as an educator, but also in a parental role for many of her students as a result of her maternal nature.

As a mother of three and a grandmother of eight, Gina also loved taking care of her family. Later in her life, she even decided to step away from her love of special education to work with the family business, Elmar Window Fashions.

The business served as a fabricator for Hunter Douglas, and Gina decided that she wanted to contribute in some way. She worked in the accounting department, which she then did for many years. After giving birth to her third child in 1988, though, she took another step back to focus even more on raising her family, but would still help out in the office from time to time.

When Gina passed away in August of 2021, her husband of 49 years, Craig, began looking for ways to honor her legacy. After donating to their local church and other organizations that were important to Gina, the idea of giving back to the place where the two met, BU, seemed like a great fit.
Craig had attended Bloomsburg for the first two years of his undergraduate degree from 1967-68. That’s when he met Gina, and the rest was history. But, after his father passed away, Craig decided to transfer to Temple University. This allowed him to be closer to his mother, and he also was seeking out a stronger business program, which at the time, Bloomsburg could not offer.

“When I came back for a visit in 2021, after being away for 50 years, I was amazed at how the University had grown and improved since I’d been here last,” Craig says. “It truly is a hidden gem. And the expansion of Bloomsburg’s degree programs and infrastructure is astounding. These students have access to top-notch facilities.”

After this visit, Craig knew he had to make a gift to Bloomsburg to support students like Gina. He was greatly impressed by the recently enhanced Zeigler College of Business during his visit. He had transferred to Temple because of Bloomsburg’s lack of a business program, but when he saw all that today’s business college at BU offers, he felt even more motivated to give back.

“I know Gina would be as amazed as I was with what this place has become and it’s something she would be proud to support,” adds Craig. “Without her scholarships, she would not have created the impact she did, so it’s only fitting to give back to the school that cultivated her passion so well.”

In 2022, Craig established The Gina Hitcho Garretson Memorial Scholarship to honor his late wife. The gift provides an endowed four-year renewable scholarship for qualified students pursuing a degree in special education and will begin benefiting future educators at BU this coming fall.

Gina’s zeal for special education impacted generations of students, and Craig hopes that the students who benefit from this scholarship will have a chance to cultivate that same passion and to follow in Gina’s footsteps.