CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Jan. 5, 2015 – Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Josh Downing dreamed of owning his own restaurant and ultimately becoming a top chef.
He was one of the first graduates of Southeast’s hospitality management program in 2009.
“He knew the world of food,” said Dr. Quantella Anderson-Noto, assistant professor and director of Southeast’s Hospitality Management program. “You could tell he embraced it. You could tell he loved it. He was a delight to have.
When his life was cut short due to illness, his family established the Josh Downing Memorial Scholarship and Endowment for Hospitality Management through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation so other students with Josh’s interest in the hospitality management industry, along with his unbridled drive and determination, might benefit.
While constantly fighting illness, Josh was a full-time student at Southeast Missouri State University and also worked part-time in the kitchen of Saint Francis Medical Center, and later, as a chef at Ruby Tuesday restaurant, both in Cape Girardeau.
“I was so impressed with him,” Anderson-Noto said, recalling how Josh would communicate with her from the hospital about homework assignments while he was receiving treatment. “He was a very gentle, gentleman. “He had a very dry sense of humor. He had his own style,” she said.
“He was a serious student who was here to get his degree and learn his craft,” she added.
Amity Downing Shedd, Josh’s sister, said, “His years spent at Southeast were the best of his life.”
Initially, Josh planned to pursue a Bachelor of Science in music education, but later decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science in hospitality management.
“He was not afraid of much – in the kitchen or in life,” Shedd said.
Josh’s creativity in the kitchen extended into what he hoped would become real-life endeavors, ranging from opening his own unique restaurant, becoming a top drawer chef to running a food truck.
“Our family hopes the Josh Downing Memorial Scholarship and Endowment Fund will help ease the financial burden on students as they discover their own talent and interests in the hospitality field,” Shedd says.
Nate and Mendy Downing of Anna, Illinois, and Harry and Sally Downing of Des Moines, Iowa, made a $10,000 gift to establish the Josh Downing Memorial Scholarship. In addition, the family made a $10,000 gift to establish the Josh Downing Memorial Endowment for Hospitality Management.
The recipient of the renewable Josh Downing Memorial Scholarship for Hospitality Management will be a student enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University with a minimum 2.75 grade point average who is majoring in hospitality management who has completed a minimum of 75 credit hours. First preference will be given to students who are gainfully employed in the hospitality management field at the time of application. The Department of Human Environmental Studies Scholarship Committee in conjunction with the director of hospitality management will select the recipient.
Funds from the Josh Downing Memorial Endowment for Hospitality Management will be awarded by the Department of Human Environmental Studies in conjunction with the director of hospitality management for: travel expenses and conference fees related to student experiential learning opportunities; scholarships for program related fees and for students participating in internships and practicums; expenses associated with students participating in hospitality-related scholarly student groups; and capital needs identified by the department.