KENNESAW, Ga. | Jan 19, 2017
Funding from donors reduces financial burden for students
When Lucas Kellner’s mother fell ill last year, the medical bills began to pile up, leaving less money for his college education. The sophomore marketing major quickly applied for one of more than 300 scholarships for Kennesaw State students, earning the J.P. and Ruby Kemp Memorial Scholarship.
“Getting this scholarship was a game changer,” Kellner said. A HOPE scholarship recipient, he has relied on the Kemp Scholarship award to help offset the recent financial burden on his family. “The donors and the scholarships are so important. The scholarship does more than just give money. It gives me a college experience and helps my family.”
Kellner’s experience is not unusual, according to Melisa Baldwin, interim vice president for advancement and development.
“Education can be a huge financial burden for some students, and, for many, scholarships can be the deciding factor on whether they stay in school,” she said. “Many times, scholarships are given by donors who themselves received financial support while attending college.”
Kennesaw State President Sam Olens, who took office in November 2016, said that increasing scholarship funds for students, especially for those in need, was one of his top priorities.
“This is a critical need and an area where we have already begun to reach out to donors to help us fund scholarships for need-based students and for other areas of importance such as scholarships to help fund a vibrant Honors College and to help bring more women into the STEM fields,” said Olens. “As someone who was able to go to college because of the help I received through scholarships, it is something I feel very passionate about.”
Last year, Kennesaw State awarded $1.4 million in scholarship funding to more than 860 students, all made possible because of donors. Composed of individuals, organizations and corporations, donors fund the university’s need- and merit-based scholarships, with individual scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000.
“Just as each student has an individual story regarding how a scholarship has impacted his or her life, each donor has a personal reason for deciding to give. No matter the reason, we are grateful donors invest in scholarships,” said Baldwin. “It is an investment in an individual as well as an investment in the future. Assisting individuals in completing their education is a gift that affects us all.”
Charles and Sally Goldgeier raised money to create a scholarship in memory of their son, Jimmy, an architecture graduate who passed away in 2002. The scholarship was formed with the help of Jimmy’s brother Dan and friends Jeff Crow, Greg Jacobs and Paul Nozick.
“There was no better way to remember him than to set up a scholarship in his name,” said Charles Goldgeier. Established in 2003, the endowed scholarship has been given to 23 recipients over the years and will continue to provide scholarships for generations of students.
Laura Sherman, a senior architecture student, has been a recipient of the Jimmy Goldgeier Scholarship for the past two years.
“The donors are personally invested in the cycle of giving,” Sherman said. “But even more, these are people who clearly believe in me.”
The Goldgeier Scholarship couldn’t have happened at a better time, she said. Her parents were struggling to financially support her and her older brothers while they attended college.
“After I earned my first scholarship, I was continually searching for more scholarships to apply to,” said Sherman, who earned four other scholarships during the past five years. “It’s a big incentive to do well in school and be more involved on campus.”
Many donors enjoy maintaining relationships with scholarship recipients and watching them achieve success in both college and career.
The Goldgeier Scholarship Committee gets to know each of the scholarship recipients who meet the five qualifications that best reflect their son’s personality.
“We are always eager to find people with the same passion for architecture the way Jimmy had,” said Sally. “He loved architecture and really worked toward his goal.”
Finding opportunities for success
Scholarships are often designated to align with the causes most important to the individual donor. James Christopher Pike and his wife, Debbie, both metro Atlanta entrepreneurs and business owners, established the J.P. and Ruby Kemp Memorial Scholarship for those pursuing business degrees.
Chris and Debbie Pike created the scholarship, now in its third year, in memory of a family that was helpful to Chris as a child. He remembers paying for his own college education and its financial burden.
“I hope this scholarship helps students graduate and go out and have a better chance for success,” Pike said.
Chris, a Kennesaw State graduate, and Debbie, a University of Georgia graduate, were already familiar with donating to Kennesaw State. In 2013, they established a nursing scholarship in memory of Debbie’s mother, Virginia Hughes.
Although there are no stipulations to their scholarships, Pike believes that the couple’s philanthropy will ultimately inspire students to return the favor one day.
“We expect these recipients to give back when they are able,” Pike said. “For us, by giving to a scholarship, rather than infrastructure, this is the best way to see what the money went for… it’s touching a student, and you can see immediate results in that.”
Pike explained that most of the Kemp Scholarship recipients have jobs, and “students know how hard it is to get a dollar, so they appreciate it much more.”
The scholarships help students fill the gaps in their financial needs, often reducing the number of hours they have to work or allowing them to continue in school.
“This scholarship allowed my main focus to be on school,” Lucas Kellner said of the Kemp Scholarship. He works a part-time job and anticipates having a future internship or co-op.
“The money part doesn’t even matter,” he explained. “It’s what the scholarship does that is so important. For my family, it provided breathing room.”
The University’s Board of Trustees recently created a scholarship initiative to encourage more donors to give back to students through scholarships.
“We know that a student’s experience at KSU is significantly improved and enhanced with these donor scholarships,” Baldwin said. “Students and donors alike find these opportunities to be life-changing.”
Through their philanthropy, donors are making a tremendous impact on the students they support.
“We want to give students a boost in life, so they can follow the path they want,” said Charles Goldgeier. “There is no greater satisfaction than that.”
- Tiffany Capuano; photos by Lauren Lopez de Azua
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.