Hancock’s Alma Mater Becomes Her Passion
More than 37 years ago, South Florida Junior College (SFJC) made an impact on a 19-year-old Sebring native, Jane Hancock. She never dreamed that one day she would return to the college as an employee and become the director of planned and major giving with the South Florida State College Foundation, Inc.
“SFJC was convenient, inexpensive, and it allowed me to stay home, close to my family and friends,” Hancock said. “After high school, my parents gave me the opportunity to go away for college, but I decided to stay and earn my associate in arts degree at SFJC. I never imagined living anywhere else.”
Hancock started working at SFSC’s Foundation, Inc. in 2011. Since her student days, 1975-1976, she has witnessed many changes at the college we now know as South Florida State College. “When I was here, students didn’t need parking decals, smoking was permitted on campus, and there was no gym or performing arts center,” Hancock said. “Surprisingly, bowling, music appreciation, and volleyball were electives, and tuition was $9 per semester hour.”
“In addition to my education, I made many great friends at SFJC who are still my friends today,” she said. “Attending SFJC probably saved my parents from going into debt from law school as well.”
After transferring to the University of Florida in 1977, Hancock discovered the value of her SFJC education. “It was a great foundation for my educational development,” Hancock said. “As it is now, UF was hard to get into, and I truly think staying for my associate in arts degree helped.” Later, she followed in her father’s footsteps and earned her law degree from the University of Florida.
After law school, Hancock moved to Tampa. She worked at the Florida Office of the Attorney General as a senior assistant attorney general for 16 years. “When my kids went off to college, I considered moving back to my home town,” she said. “It was a big step at age 50. I left behind my job, my home, my friends, and everything I had known.”
Hancock moved back to Sebring and practiced law at the Clifford M. Ables law firm for five years. “During this time, I was approached by an SFSC Foundation board member at an event, and he said that he had heard about a job that would be perfect for me.”
“When I saw the job description, I was blown away,” Hancock said. “I couldn’t believe that I could get paid to do something so fun. I never knew this career track existed. If I had, I would have pursued it 20 years ago.”
“During my interview, I brought my diploma to show the interviewees that I was passionate about returning to the college as an employee,” Hancock said. “It brought out a sense of pride and loyalty in me. It was a new challenge, but I was able to use the skills and knowledge I developed from practicing law to contribute to the greater good.”
Hancock has always been involved with community outreach organizations, so the job fits well with her personality. “Before taking this position, I never realized the impact SFSC has on our community. Not only in education, but the cultural resources it provides to a broad spectrum of people.”
As the director of planned and major giving, Hancock educates donors about ways they can make gifts to the college from their estates. She looks for prospects that are eligible to provide gifts that ensure the future of the college. In her position, she must be familiar with different types of gifts, regarding tax laws and charitable giving restrictions.
“As an advocate of my alma mater, I help people look to the future as to what they can do for the college,” she said. “Planned gifts are typically large gifts compared to what someone might give annually. We’re a four-year college now, and we have to consider the future and make sure opportunities are available for generations to come. Many students require assistance in going to college, and I like to see bright kids get the chance to pursue their education without the financial burdens. I’m here to serve people and help those who have not had the advantages I had growing up.”
As for the future, Hancock is in no rush to retire. “I’ve had people say to me that they have never seen someone who is so passionate about their job, and I think that’s because SFSC is my college,” she said. “I really love my job. It exposes me to new people and new stories. I’m having a blast, and all I can think about is how much more I can do for the college. I have truly found my passion.”