2011 Faculty and Staff Campaign LaunchesPosted Apr. 5, 2011
Beginning today through early May, the university's annual Faculty and Staff Campaign gives Kent State employees an additional opportunity to make a difference through private financial support.
One such staff member is Debra Drake, assistant to Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton.
In her five years with the university, Drake has experienced Kent State from nearly every angle: parent, staff member, student, alumna, donor. The personable mother of two with the contagious laugh began working in the Office of Diversity before moving to the president's office. She watched her daughter graduate from the nursing program, while her son enrolled in the computer technology program. And in 2008, she completed her own bachelor's degree.
Like many faculty and staff members, Drake's service to Kent State extends beyond her assigned duties. In the past, that's included helping with Commencement or acting as "Mama Drake" for the football team. Now, she's joining many of her peers in creating a permanent legacy by endowing four scholarships, which she's doing through a gift of life insurance.
When Drake became a widowed mother of two, she realized the value of having such insurance, so she ensured her children would be taken care of in the event of her death. Now that they're older, those policies are the foundation for her significant gift to four scholarship funds.
The first is a scholarship for nontraditional students in honor of her grandmother, who completed her mass-communication degree at The University of Akron when she was 72 years old, taking courses one at a time while working as a beautician and real estate broker.
"She just turned 90 in December," Drake says. "I gave her this scholarship; she didn't know what to say. I told her I wanted to give her the scholarship because she's such an inspiration."
Another scholarship is in honor of her two children, while the third is named for her parents and provides last-dollar scholarship support for students who have run out of other financial options.
"I want the scholarship for my parents to be meaningful," she says. "It's nice to know that no matter what I need, they'll always be there for me, just as this last-dollar scholarship will be there for future students."
The final scholarship is named for a friend and provides emergency funds for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
"I had a dear friend who passed away who never was able to express his sexuality," she says. "We have a lot of students who, when they decide to share their orientation, their families just cut them off. This scholarship is for them."
Nearly 2,000 Kent State employees support the university each year through the Faculty and Staff Campaign. Most members of the community give gifts in the range of $100-$1,000 to provide annual support for student scholarships and academic areas. Whether you have a passion for the arts or a vision for innovative technology and research, the Faculty and Staff Campaign is your opportunity to make an impact today. And you can direct your contribution to any campus, school, department or program at the university.
As so many faculty and staff donors and the students who benefit know, every gift makes a difference, regardless of the amount.