Recently, I attended the College of Liberal Arts Donors Brunch. This annual event honors the many scholarship donors who support CLA and the students who benefit. It is fitting that it occurs in November, a month when we are reminded to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for and remember those who need our help. This year’s brunch made me think again about why I give to CSU because I was the featured speaker.
I was a first-generation college student who would not be here now without the encouragement of my parents and the generosity of scholarship donors. Dean Gill introduced me by saying that I would speak about a new chapter in my story as an educator.
Here’s the story I told.
My new chapter opens with a bequest that my husband and I recently decided to make to the English department. But the story behind it is a story of the encouragement of parents who wanted for their children the education they could not have and the generous support of scholarship donors.
When I was two years old, my parents bought the first of many Series E US Savings Bonds and started a college savings account at the bank.
When I was four years old, they bought a set of the American Peoples encyclopedias that my mother had in her home until she moved to assisted living at age 84.
Before I started school, my parents found an old wooden school desk with a flip top lid so that I could play school with my younger siblings and dolls. At least the dolls were cooperative.
Neither of my parents had gone beyond high school and our family of five lived on what my father earned as an auto mechanic, but college was never a question. Paying for it was.
I chose a liberal arts college not only for the education but because the combination of scholarships and financial aid made it possible for me to go. When my parents dropped me off at school, I knew they were proud. Later my mother confided that my father cried as they drove away.
A few months later, my father died suddenly, and I didn’t know if we could afford for me to stay in school. Financial aid, work-study grants, and the generosity of scholarship donors made it possible for me to stay.
After college I went on to teach junior and senior high school for 19 years and earned 2 more degrees. When I successfully defended my dissertation, my mother sent flowers to Dr. Reid. She never tired of telling the story of correcting the florist when the florist asked for his address. “Dr. Reid is my daughter,” she said.
When I took the position at CSU, she turned to the encyclopedias they had bought so long ago to learn about where I would be teaching, but if you think a minute about the age of those encyclopedias, you’ll know what she found instead. She called and said “Did you mean you are going to Colorado A&M?”
Education mattered to my parents and it matters to us. Dave and I have always believed in giving to what matters, and we believe in the future of CSU. We want to ensure opportunities for generations of students to get an education that matters to them and to society.
I am thankful for the generosity that made my education possible.