Thursday, October 4, 2012

Over $206K raised at Donnelly College scholarship dinner

Donnelly College’s Sixth Annual Scholarship Dinner raised more than $206,000 for scholarships and for establishment of the Breidenthal Family Endowed Scholarship Fund.

More than 500 guests gathered at the Jack Reardon Convention Center on Sept. 27th to pledge their support of Donnelly’s mission and to honor Board of Trustees member and Class of 1969 graduate George Breidenthal.

The theme of the event – Small Keys Open Big Doors – reflects Donnelly’s commitment to broadening higher education opportunities for first generation college students. In fact, 85 percent of the College’s students are the first in their families to attend college.

More than 75 percent of Donnelly students are low-income and the College is the region’s only federally designated Minority Serving Institution and Hispanic Serving Institution.

Though annual tuition is just under $6,000, it is cost – not ability – that remains the students’ biggest hurdle to earning their college degrees. The availability of scholarships plays a critical role in helping students enroll in college.

Dan and Pat Haake, a 1972 graduate, along with Dr. Cynthia Lane, Superintendent of Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, served as chairs of the dinner. Willard B. Snyder and Dr. Mary Davidson-Cohen served as honorary chairs.

Breidenthal has served on Donnelly’s Board of Trustees since 1991.

In addition to making generous financial contributions to the College, he enthusiastically invests time in initiatives that support the development of young people living in Wyandotte County.

He has served on the Board of Kansas City Kansas Public Schools since 1983 and actively participates in education and community development initiatives. He earned a master’s degree from Kansas State University.

“George opens doors to dreams in a way that’s incredibly personal,” said Dr. Steve LaNasa, president, Donnelly College.” “He knows first-hand the obstacles that students face and goes out of his way to understand the current Donnelly student – 43 years after graduating from our classrooms. George is an extraordinarily intentional person and his involvement in so many state and community educational institutions has been steadfast for more than three decades.”

Donnelly College is nationally ranked in the top 10 percent of colleges nationally for student effort, academic challenge and support for learners.

Jonathan Westbrook, an officer with the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department, earned an associate degree in 2007 and returned to the College to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership.

He spoke about the challenges many students face and how his experiences at Donnelly have inspired him to give back to his community.

“Opportunities for success are rare, due to the many difficulties that we face,” said Westbrook. “But when a faithful few pour back into the community in which they came from and provide a way for others to better themselves – I define that as true success. It’s the ability to achieve your own goals and ambitions, but to also make a way for others to do the same.”

The Breidenthal Foundation and the Blessed Seelos Fund were presenting sponsors of the event.

Additional sponsors included Burns & McDonnell, Barton P. & Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, Beidenthal Snyder Foundation, Forster Powers Charitable Trust, Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools, Dr. Steve & Rebecca LaNasa, Dr. Tom Pierce and Loretto Charities.