“Penn State is so near and dear to our hearts, we couldn’t think of a better place to have this scholarship at”
Deryk and Camille Gilmore are always eager to give back.
They don’t do it for special recognition or personal gain, though. It’s simply a byproduct of how they were raised.
Deryk, a Penn State football letterman (86-88), grew up most of his life in a single-parent home.
His father, Arthur T. Gilmore, an engineer and one of the first black men to serve in the U.S. Navy, died when Deryk was just four years old.
He looked to his mother for guidance and inspiration, as she instilled in him a deep sense of faith that he continues to carry today.
Camille lost her father, Dennis H.M. Chang, who once served as the personal bodyguard for the Jamaican prime minister, when she was a freshman in college. Her mother, a nurse, was tasked with raising and supporting Camille and her three siblings.
“I think one of the things we recognized is the blessings that we have now are because of those who came before us,” Camille, a 1991 Penn State graduate from the Smeal College of Business, said. “The best way to honor them was to give back. We knew how hard it was for our mothers to raise kids from New York by themselves, and we all ended up living pretty darn well.”
To further fulfill that mission of giving back, the Gilmores have recently donated scholarships to support students at three different universities across the country.
At Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where Camille served as a board of visitor’s member, the Gilmores provided funds for a scholarship to the school’s nursing program in honor of her mother, Pamela Chang.
The second scholarship created by the Gilmores went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Deryk and Camille both received their MBAs, and where Deryk was a football coach for the Fighting Illini. This scholarship was dedicated in honor of Deryk’s mother, Yvonne Gilmore.
For the third scholarship, the Gilmores wanted to accomplish two things: they wanted to give back to Penn State and they wanted to find a way to honor their fathers in the same mold as they honored their mothers.
“Penn State is so near and dear to our hearts, we couldn’t think of a better place to have this scholarship at,” Deryk, a 1990 Penn State agricultural business management grad, said.
When you talk further with the Gilmores, you learn quickly why Penn State will always remain a special place for them.
It is, after all, the place where the Gilmores met almost 29 years ago.
Visiting the McDonald’s on College Avenue to grab dinner one night, they each stepped up to their respective cash registers to place an order.
“We were both at the counter ordering and we each asked for a coke with no ice and that was the start of it for us, I guess,” Camille said laughing. “I ended up going to a party of his later on.”
“And just to prove how good of a businessman I am, even though I liked her, I still charged her five dollars to get into the house,” Deryk quickly responded in jest. “And we’ve now been together 29 years, married for 26. It’s always funny to look back on that.”
This past summer, the Gilmores committed $25,000 for a scholarship fund at Penn State, which will offer $5,000 in direct student support through the Penn State BLUEprint Peer Mentoring Program for each of the next five years.
It was the perfect way to honor their fathers, while simultaneously give aid to students at their alma mater.
“Our dads just worked so hard to help people and we wanted them to be recognized as the role models that they were in their own communities,” Deryk said. “They both worked in careers that were not common for men of color at the time. They worked and were deeply family men.”
The Gilmore/Chang Family Scholarship will be awarded to full-time undergraduate students who have demonstrated a financial need, meet the academic requirements, participate in the BLUEprint Peer Mentoring Program, and hold the values of mentorship, leadership and service.
Deryk said the ultimate goal of the scholarship is to try and make it easier for someone interested in Penn State to attend, particularly students of color.
“Being black, we understand it’s hard for students of different backgrounds sometimes to be able to afford college,” Deryk said. “We want to help their path get a little easier. We didn’t want to make it all about grades but about upside. We want to help people who work hard to have a chance. Sometimes you just need that little bump. When students get into Penn State, it’s can be hard to stay there. If we can create avenues to help, let’s do it.”
During their time as undergrads, the Gilmores themselves were active student leaders and were particularly involved with several leadership programs for students of color.
In addition to her business degree, Camille was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She’s propelled her experiences at Penn State into more than 25 years of human resources leadership for various businesses.
She’s now the vice president of human resources and global chief diversity officer for Boston Scientific, a manufacturer of medical devices used in interventional medical specialties.
Having worked on promoting diversity in the workplace for most of her career, getting students from more diverse backgrounds to Penn State is important to Camille.
“The [BLUEprint] scholarship offers a level of inclusion to say, ‘Hey, we want you at Penn State. We believe in you and who you are. And we’re going to find a way to keep you here,’” she said. “To me, I hope Penn State can use this as a pull strategy to attract the best, diverse talent to Penn State. If this scholarship helps us to get the best and brightest from diverse backgrounds, that’s exactly what we want.”
Deryk started Incoming Black Athletes At Penn State (IBAAPS) — the first mentor education program for student athletes — and was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
He was also a defensive tackle on the 1986-87 Penn State football team that took down the favored Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl to capture the program’s second national championship.
The Gilmore’s younger son, Deion followed in his father’s footsteps, and now plays at defensive tackle for Manchester University (Indiana), while their eldest son, Dantae’, is a theatre major at the University of Alabama.
“For me, my experience playing football was all about the friendships I created and the different skills I used to help me in life,” Deryk said. “You know, you learn time management skills balancing football and school. You must learn how to work with expectations, for yourself and for your group. It’s what helped make me so successful in business.”
As many of Joe Paterno’s former players are asked, Deryk gets questions all the time about what it was like playing under the legendary coach.
“You know, it was hard but rewarding playing for him. He definitely challenged me to be a better player and a better person,” Deryk said.
The biggest thing that’s always stuck with Deryk about Paterno is how much he cared for his players beyond how many sacks they recorded or touchdowns they scored.
He recalls the period when he had just graduated from Penn State and was in the process of looking for a place to start in his career.
Any time he interviewed or applied for a position, he said Paterno would call the employer and tell them that Deryk was the man to hire.
“He really helped me get my foot in the door, so to speak,” Deryk said. “He was always more worried about us as a person and the type of man we would become than he was about how great we were as an athlete.”
Deryk turned his experiences in business and football in to becoming the founder and owner of Day 1 Sports and Entertainment, whose clients include Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans — who Deryk helped negotiate a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension in March of 2018, the second-highest deal for a wide receiver in NFL history at the time.
Other Day 1 clients include La’El Collins of the Dallas Cowboys, Shaq Mason of the New England Patriots and Mitchell Schwartz of the Kansas City Chiefs — all of whom have recently negotiated new contracts or contract extensions.
“You know, I’d say one of the reasons I got into the agent industry was to impact these young men’s lives,” Deryk said. “We want to connect them to wealth and teach them the importance of ownership and being involved in their businesses. We don’t want them to turn it over to someone that can take advantage of them and lose the money. I always try to show players that they can be more than the employee. They can be the owner.”
As they each continue to excel in their careers, the connection to Penn State is as strong as ever for Deryk and Camille.
They believe in the impact of Penn State, Penn State students and Penn State alumni.
“I saw there was an incident earlier this season where someone had written an awful letter to a football player of ours (Jonathan Sutherland), and just seeing how well he responded to it and how we as a Penn State community rallied,” Deryk said. “We had each other’s backs. I think that culture is what makes us, Penn Stater’s, great. And that carries well beyond the student-athletes.”
And above all else, “We’re proud Penn Staters’, we bleed blue and white,” Camille said. “That’s for sure. That’ll never change.”