Giving Stories

Every gift to Marquette allows you to Be The Difference in real and meaningful ways. You are helping to enrich and expand student opportunities, support our teacher-scholars, foster innovation and transform our campus. Read about how recent gifts are already changing lives.

 

 

COHS Students

 

Accelerating Student Opportunity through Planned Giving

 

One Marquette alumna and her husband are making a difference for faculty and students through an estate pledge to support depression research as well as rural Wisconsin scholarships. As a career-long health professional and now volunteer teacher and mentor for top-of-the-class middle-school students at a Milwaukee Catholic school, this alumna has strong affinity for both aspects of her gift.

The couple’s generosity toward mental health research through Marquette’s Kubly Center in the College of Health Sciences will empower researchers to uncover the basis of depression, seeking to find faster acting and more effective treatments.

“We also have a special heart for kids growing up in a rural setting with little exposure to what university can offer,” she says. “Like many of the students I work with through my service, they’re so bright, with so much potential, and I’m happy to provide support so they can reach their dreams.”

In his own childhood, her dad was denied a grade school diploma and had to work the family farm instead of furthering his education. He was adamant that she have the opportunity to go to university. Now, she’s paying that forward to new generations through scholarship.

“Overall, we want to help students realize that places like Marquette are possible for them,” the couple says. “And that it will make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.”

The Binashes, Marquette Legacy Society members

 

Faith in the Future: Strengthening Catholic education through planned giving


Catholic education is close to the heart for Brian, Arts ’78, and Irene Binash. As the couple reflected on how they might help “close the leap” for students from Catholic high schools to afford Marquette, they realized a planned giving scholarship was their best way to accomplish it.

Being involved in the structure of the gift and its impact was important to the Binashes, so they decided to initiate the gift early instead of waiting to alert the university only as part of their will. The Binashes pledged a percentage of their estate to Marquette and worked with Marquette’s Advancement team to direct that percentage toward scholarship.

“We hope our approach will inspire others to do likewise,” Brian and Irene said. “We are pleased to have the opportunity now to tailor our future estate gift so that it benefits Marquette students according to our desires and prescription.”

For them, the gift deepens their connection to Marquette and underscores the value of Catholic education at a university level.

“We felt it was important to empower students to have a solid, faith-based education while espousing the conservative Christian values we believe are so important in society today,” they said. “We believe this will enable students to take that education and further it into the community. Well-informed students contribute greatly to society, and the effect that will have over time will be invaluable.”

The scholarship is focused on helping students — especially first-generation college students — from Catholic high schools in urban areas, like Brian’s alma mater of St. Thomas More in Milwaukee.

“Knowing, while you are alive, that your desires will be followed after your death is indeed a very peaceful thing. That was what really drove us to make our intended gift known now. We have been blessed with much, and we are absolutely at peace knowing that our desires for our gift will be carried out according to our intentions. For that, we are eternally grateful.”
— Brian and Irene Binash, Marquette Legacy Society members

MU Time To Rise Elevating Excellence in Women's Athletics

 

Hold the Door Open

Bob Sobczak (Eng ’71, Grad ’74) and Nancy Laning Sobczak (Eng ’70, Grad ’72, ’07): Marquette University and their love for engineering brought them together while Marquette basketball kept them engaged with their alma mater long after graduation.

They attended games for decades, sharing their passion for the sport that unites Marquette alumni across generations. The Sobczaks grew particularly fond of the women’s basketball team, even having “meet-and-greets” with the student-athletes.

“Our Marquette student-athletes are exemplars of what academic competition in college means,” Bob says, echoing how Nancy — who passed away 10 years ago — felt the same. Indeed, the two were like-minded regarding the total Marquette experience and its impact. “Today’s students just want the same thing we did: to find their own future,” Bob says.

To help them get there, the couple was committed to “hold the door open” by establishing a variety of scholarships across campus. Recently, Bob wanted to open new doors to recognize the wealth of potential and inspiration he and Nancy saw specifically in the women’s team. He decided to support the Marquette’s Women’s Basketball Excellence Fund.

Quote from Rose Nkumu

 

Uniting excellence in athletics and academics

Bob’s gift last April, which is the largest in support of women’s athletics at Marquette to date, is helping “tip off” the new Elevating Excellence in Women’s Athletics initiative at Marquette. The initiative, honoring the 50th anniversary of Title IX, is focused on increasing both scholarship and excellence fund support across women’s sports. “Marquette sports aren’t just about men’s basketball,” Bob insists. Rather, he is confident that both male and female athletes at Marquette contribute to the university’s athletic reputation — as well as its academic excellence. The generous donor heralds Marquette Athletics for providing student-athletes with a solid “union of academics and athletics” that does not prioritize performance in one sphere over the other.

The academic performance of female student-athletes in the 2021-2022 academic year speaks to Marquette’s philosophy of equilibrium between athletics and academics: 26 student-athletes finished the spring semester with a 4.0 GPA, and 137 student-athletes earned recognition on the Athletic Director Honor Roll. Among such impressive academic accomplishments, one women’s basketball player earned a 4.0, and eight of her teammates received honor roll recognition.

Quote from Chloe Marotta

 

Paying it forward

These high-achieving young women inspired Bob, also a member of Marquette’s Founders Society, to make his sixth major gift to the university — a milestone in itself! His support of the Women’s Basketball Excellence Fund helps provide our coaches and their staff with financial support necessary to achieve national success by helping student-athletes fulfill individual potential as members of a team. With Nancy no doubt smiling in approval from above, Bob’s recent generosity continues the couple’s commitment to “hold the door open.”

Bob is hopeful that his recent gift benefits not only student-athletes, but also children in the Milwaukee area. Recalling how he heard a young boy on his way to a Marquette basketball game declare proudly that he wished to attend Marquette someday, Bob believes that boys and girls alike who take field trips to watch the women play at the Al McGuire Center can experience firsthand the power of positive role models. Talented women who inspire youngsters to envision college, aim high, and work towards their goals. A believer in the pay-it forward spirit of giving, Bob likes to cite his favorite quote from legendary Marquette Men’s Basketball Coach Al McGuire: "Help one kid at a time. She'll maybe go back and help a few more."

Speaking of legends, Marquette is grateful for and proud of the caring generosity of Bob and the late Nancy Sobczak, which continues to “hold the door open.”

Maryanne and Charles Torner

 

Estate gift in support of the Haggerty Museum: A thing of beauty


To appreciate a singular brushstroke in a masterpiece, you often need to step back and consider the whole. The same can be said about Maryanne Torner’s generous estate gift, a reflection of the many brushstrokes creating beauty in her life. For the Detroit resident, her late husband, Charles (Eng ’61) and a love of art truly constitute the subjects of her “big picture.”

Maryanne graduated from the liberal arts College of Wooster (Ohio) and served as an executive assistant at General Motors Design Center in Warren, Michigan, where she met “Chuck.” The Milwaukee-born Marquette engineer, also an outstanding athlete, had an interest in the arts as well. A canvas would ultimately be painted around their shared perspective of the liberal and creative arts. “It’s about educating the whole person,” Maryanne comments. And appreciation of the creative arts in particular would help bring the two together.

After Chuck was widowed in 1984, he and Maryanne began a long courtship and were married in 2000. His three children, their spouses and six grandchildren were a bonus for Maryanne. The couple’s life was filled with world travels, from South America to South Africa. “I got Chuck to go to places he thought he’d never see,” Maryanne recalls, adding with a wistful laugh, “I expanded his horizons and mine as well, sharing tremendous experiences together.” Chuck continued his interest in art by taking painting classes soon after his retirement in 2000. He exhibited often in juried shows and sold some of his work.

Students viewing an exhibition at the Haggerty MuseumMaryanne and Chuck pursued the beauty of art together when they became members of Marquette’s Friends of the Haggerty Museum in 2005. Through trips and events, this group fueled the Michigan couple’s love of art and travel while connecting them with like-minded people. “The Friends of the Haggerty were exactly that — real friends,” Maryanne comments. They even discovered connections to the College of Wooster and General Motors within the group. “It’s the circles in life that add to the circle of life’s beauty", Maryanne reflects.

When Maryanne tragically lost Chuck in 2020 to COVID-19, she felt compelled to revise her estate plan. It seemed natural to share her professional gains with places that mattered most to her personal formation and happiness. In addition to the College of Wooster and Michigan’s Oakland University, Maryanne decided to make a planned gift to support the Haggerty Museum. She explains, “While Chuck always supported Marquette through scholarships, the Blue & Gold Fund, the Engineering Building Fund and the Friends of the Haggerty, this was ‘my gift’— one I think he would value because of what we shared behind it.”

Marquette University will always value the artistry of this most thoughtful brushstroke, a finishing touch to a beautiful life story.

 

Marquette’s historic Time to Rise campaign keeps students at its heart. The amazing momentum and support from our alumni, parents and friends allows us to make a profound difference on the lives of our students, through scholarship and beyond. Recently, Kaleb Tatum in the Diederich College of Communication shared his Marquette story. Our great Marquette family helps stories like this become reality for students every day.

Read Kaleb's remarks below.


Hello everyone! My name is Kaleb Tatum, and I’m a Senior studying Corporate Communications and Marketing. Growing up in the city of Milwaukee, my Marquette journey started when I was 13 years old -- When I first stepped onto this campus for Upward Bound, a program that helps high school students build a strong foundation as they prepare for college.

The program gave me the opportunity to take a summer class on Marquette’s campus and get a taste of what life here could be. Since elementary school, my parents always sent me and my siblings to private religious schools and wanted to continue that tradition. I had a brother who already attended Marquette, so with my family’s encouragement, I applied.

When I was accepted at Marquette, I was also accepted to the Urban Scholars Program, a scholarship program geared towards high-achieving minority students in the Milwaukee area that provides a full-tuition scholarship.
When I received this scholarship, I was able to focus solely on my studies while getting the support I needed to ensure I was as successful as possible.

But even with this amazing support, during my freshman year I was still unsure if I made the right decision, and I wasn’t sure if I belonged. It took a tragedy to help me realize what makes Marquette so special. On the first day of class of my second semester, I received a call that one of my good friends from 6th grade had passed away. This was the first person I lost that young, and it was really tough to deal with. I was not focused anymore, and my grades begin to slip. I thought I was all alone - but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

One evening, I went to office hours and talked to my Econ professor Heather Kohls, telling her about my situation. She was comforting and understanding and took the time to work with me to ensure that I was successful. It didn’t matter if it took 5 minutes or 50, she was there to help. And it wasn’t just that conversation– During my time on campus, I’ve been involved in various programs that have contributed to my growth and helped me find community. I’d like to highlight one of the best parts of my experience here – Meeting Marquette alumni.

"As a mentee in the Marquette Mentors program, I can say that there is something truly special about being able to connect with someone who has been in your shoes and can help guide you as you go through your college journey."

I learned quickly that the love I received from my mentors extended beyond the program. I have countless stories of meeting with alumni and them taking me out to coffee or dinner to share advice. Marquette has an alumni network like no other!

I would be remiss if I did not mention the impact that the Urban Scholars Program has had on my time here at Marquette. Urban Scholars has served as a solid foundation since day one, supporting me in all my endeavors these past four years. Outside of the scholarship I received, I have been provided with tutoring services, one on one coaching, opportunities to engage with the community -- But most importantly, a family. A village that has helped me grow in every way possible. Because of this support, and the engagement I’ve had with my professors, the esteemed alumni, and my Urban family, as a senior, I can proudly say that the notion of not belonging here at Marquette has been completely dispelled.

"Marquette has challenged me academically, socially, mentally, and spiritually. These challenges have helped shape me into the young man I am today, and as I prepare to graduate, I am equipped with the tools I need to be successful."

After graduation, I will be taking on a role at Aldi Inc. where I will be able to apply my entrepreneurial spirit by serving as a district manager where I will be solely in charge of 4-5 stores.

Investing into Marquette is investing in future leaders and change agents of the world. Tonight, I had a chance to share with you a glimpse of my experience and I hope from this you can see the impact that you have had on my life and the lives of others at this university. I would like to thank you all for your generosity, and for providing me an opportunity to pursue and make my dreams a reality. At Marquette, I became part of a community that I will forever call home. WE ARE MARQUETTE.

 

Marquette’s historic Time to Rise campaign keeps students at its heart. The amazing momentum and support from our alumni, parents and friends allows us to make a profound difference on the lives of our students, through scholarship and beyond. Recently, Joceline Helmbreck in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences shared her Marquette story. Our great Marquette family helps stories like this become reality for students every day.

Read Joceline's remarks below.


Hi everybody. Let me start off by saying what an honor it is to be here sharing my story with you all today. My name is Joceline Helmbreck, and I’m a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Growing up I was considered the “jabber jaws” of the family. Long story short -- I never stopped talking. I always had something to say. Yet when I was asked to speak at this event, to all of you amazing and generous individuals, my mind went blank. What words could I say to truly thank you for your financial support? There are none. Nothing can express how we students feel knowing you believe in us so much you’re willing to invest in us. That’s truly one of the most humbling experiences we as students can have.

Because there aren’t really words to express just how grateful we are for your generosity, I’m going to share a bit about the impact you have made on my own Marquette journey, which quite literally would not have been possible without all of you.

I come from a family filled with hardships. Now, that’s not to say it isn’t a beautiful and loving family that I’m very grateful for, but we didn’t have the easiest lives. I’m the youngest of 3 girls all within 4 years of each other, and when I was 2 our lives changed completely. My older sister Jessie was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma.

At the time, all I really understood was that I would now be living with my beautiful grandparents until my sister was well again, while my other sister lived with our neighbor so she could continue kindergarten. Then, shortly after my sister went into her first remission, when I was 5, my parents divorced. My mother now had 3 small girls to take care of, and to make matters worse, that summer my sister’s cancer came back. Jessie fought her battle for 13 more years until it was just too much, and she went to rest 6 days after her 16th birthday, the summer before my freshman year of high school.

High school was a bit of a blur, filled with AP classes and extracurriculars until it was time to start applying for schools. I had no idea how I’d be able to afford college, truly banking on scholarships and financial aid as a low-income first-generation student. I knew Marquette was a private institution and never expected to be able to afford it. I still applied because Marquette has values that I admire, and an amazing biochemistry program that supports and gives students like me real life opportunities. Some students have to wait years to get into a lab -- Not at Marquette. But until I received my financial aid package, I was on edge wondering where I would go to school. When I received the package, it was a dream -- Thanks to generous donors like you, my first year was almost entirely paid for through scholarships.

The opportunity to attend Marquette has opened even more doors. I was inducted into the McNair Scholars in December of 2020 and began the process of working on a research project. In the department of Chemistry, I found the amazing Dr. Nicholas Reiter and learned that he was researching a protein thought to affect tumor growth in Ewing’s Sarcoma, my sister’s cancer. It seemed kismet. Together, we’ve spent the past year developing and researching a new Ewing’s Sarcoma drug’s structural effect on the protein LSD1.

"It still blows my mind to think that every day I step into lab, I’m able to try to make an impact against the cancer that took my sister."

I even got to present this research at the first ever Big East Undergraduate Research Symposium in New York this year. Not only that, but I also learned that my sister Jessie’s old nurse is a professor here, her friend from camp goes here, and she and my professor even have the same birthday. It’s all the little things confirming that I’m in the right place.

Those are really just bits of my journey at Marquette. When I graduate next year, I’m hoping they’ll lead me to a genetic counseling program. And to answer your next question - Yes, I’m a sophomore graduating next year. Marquette is just so good that students can graduate in three years with enough work!

Without Marquette I would never be working on a project about the cancer that took my sister Jessie. Growing up, I felt so helpless watching her go through treatment and fight her battle. Marquette has allowed me to be a part of a journey that lets me help. It’s a beautiful feeling.

"I could talk endlessly about my Marquette journey, the friends I’ve made, the lessons learned from wonderful mentors, the skills I never would’ve thought I’d gain. None of it would’ve been possible without the investment you’ve made in students like me."

I know words cannot thank you all enough, but I hope my story and the thousands of other Marquette students’ stories like mine can allow you to see what an immense impact you have on our lives. I am so unbelievably grateful to all of you and to Marquette University for the journey I’ve been able to experience and will continue to learn from. Thank you.

 

Marquette’s historic Time to Rise campaign keeps students at its heart. The amazing momentum and support from our alumni, parents and friends allows us to make a profound difference on the lives of our students, through scholarship and beyond. Recently, Gabby Gramz in the Opus College of Engineering shared her Marquette story. Our great Marquette family helps stories like this become reality for students every day.

Read Gabby's remarks below.


It is an honor to be speaking with you all this evening. My name is Gabby Gramz and I am a Junior in the College of Engineering here at Marquette.

Growing up in Wisconsin, I always thought I would leave for college. Moving away seemed like the right thing to do, but once I actually started visiting other states and universities, I began to realize how much I would miss Wisconsin. I have amazing parents, family, and friends here, so I decided to narrow my search closer to home. I had always been familiar with Marquette since I had friends whose families were alumni, but I had never considered it a real possibility for myself because of finances.

After touring many Wisconsin universities, I began to feel discouraged. Nothing felt like a perfect fit, and I was beginning to wonder if anything ever would. That’s when my mom suggested we tour Marquette. Being from Nashotah, she loved the idea of me being only 30 minutes away and had always heard amazing things about the university. I got on campus and after my tour I knew - this is where I’m meant to be. As amazing as that feeling was it was accompanied by such doubt and uncertainty because I knew it would take a miracle for me to be able to afford to come here. That’s when I dove into the scholarship process.

I was fortunate enough to attend a high school that had an excellent engineering program that I participated in diligently every year. I knew engineering was my passion and would be my major in college, so I hoped that my dedication to the field would show that I was deserving of a place at Marquette.

All of this led me to receiving the William G. "Pop" Fotsch Engineering Scholarship that allowed me to attend Marquette and has truly changed every aspect of my life.

"I was ecstatic to see that the Fotsch family could not only see my potential but believed in me enough to support me in such a big a way. I was amazed by their generosity, which made a Marquette education possible for me."

Once I got here, choosing to pursue a major in biomedical engineering with a concentration in biomechanics and a minor in business administration was still daunting for me. No one in my family does anything related to engineering so I was worried about what I might be getting myself into. After three years in Marquette’s engineering program, I can confidently say that I wouldn’t be here without the care and support of my professors. I have found amazing mentors and learned so much from those who are experts in the field. Because of my Marquette education I’ve already had one internship experience and have another lined up this summer at Andis Company, and I couldn’t be more excited.

All of this was possible because of the generosity of scholarship. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to attend Marquette and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity I was given to receive an exemplary education, but more than that, I am forever indebted to the Fotsch family who believed in me enough to support me through scholarship.

"I believe that the Marquette education goes beyond the classroom and teaches us how to be the best possible versions of ourselves, in all aspects of our lives."

Marquette has allowed me to grow not only as a student within our exceptional engineering college, but also as a person. Through the Marquette CORE curriculum, I’ve learned the meaning of cura personalis and how to be a woman for others. Most importantly, getting to be a part of a community that encourages, looks out for, and is there for one another has made my college experience something that I will always cherish. The people you meet here genuinely want to see you succeed and are eager to help you do so.

Marquette is more to me than just where I go to school, as I’m sure it is for all of you. I feel so lucky and honored to have received my scholarship, as I know every other recipient does. Your generosity helps us rise. I owe Marquette everything for the career path I’m on and the opportunities I’ll have as a Marquette Engineer. So, again, I want to say to everyone who has supported me - Thank you.

Professor Ronald Zupko

 

Continuing a More-than-40-year Tradition

How do you measure the impact of a man whose career was built around the literal science of measurement? If we’re talking about historical metrology expert and long-time Marquette professor, Ronald Zupko, the answer lies in the generations of students he taught and mentored.

Students spanning 40 years will remember Dr. Zupko’s infamous “rat lecture” about the spread of the Bubonic plaque and its disruption of medieval trading systems. Leaning into his background in medieval history, Dr. Zupko brought unique facets to life in his classrooms.

From 1966 until his retirement from Marquette 40 years later, Dr. Zupko became known for the enthusiasm and intellectual rigor he exhibited in his lectures and as a research scholar, earning him the university’s Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence in 1977, the highest honor bestowed upon Marquette faculty. Dr. Zupko also authored seven books and numerous articles during his storied career.Professor Ronald Zupko

Yet, Dr. Zupko was one of those remarkable teachers whose support of students goes far beyond the classroom. Together, he and his wife, Kay — a long-time teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools system at Lloyd Street School — endowed a $1 million scholarship to support qualified MPS high school graduates interested in attending Marquette. The scholarship has covered full tuition for multiple recipients since 2015 and continues to do so through the Zupkos’ estate pledge and add-on gifts from their former students as well as colleagues and friends.

It bridges the passion that Dr. Zupko and Kay held for each of their academic institutions, supporting students across both organizations by providing the care, direction and inspiration needed to succeed and complete their education.

“Throughout our careers, Ron and I have helped shape the lives of many students, and we wished to continue our efforts. This is why we established the Ronald E. and Kathleen M. Zupko Endowed Scholarship,” Kay explained about their hopes for the scholarship in its early days.Professor Ronald Zupko “We recognize that there are high-performing students from Milwaukee Public Schools who desire, but are unable to have, the Marquette experience because of financial need. We hope to help them fulfill their dreams.”

At the time, Dr. Zupko said, “Our fund will enable future generations of students to receive a Marquette education. This is our legacy to our professions and our lives. There is no greater gift than this!” And, in light of his passing in November 2021, it seems the beloved professor got it right once again — his is a legacy that lives on brightly for the university and students he cherished.

alumnus John Mau delivering a speech

 

It’s the Simple Things

Young alumnus finds meaningful ways to give back

As a supply chain leader for Rockwell Automation, Marquette Business alumnus John Mau knows how each seemingly small step in a process can make a lasting difference on the overall outcome. As a former student-athlete for Men’s Soccer and now as an enthusiastic young philanthropist, he knows the same principle applies to simple gestures of paying it forward — they can have life-changing impact!

“My professors, coaches and advisors at Marquette were my biggest cheerleaders as I started my career. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am,” John says. “The only ask these mentors had in return was that I find a way to help someone else.”

John takes this attitude to heart through a spectrum of opportunities to give back to his alma mater. “The beautiful thing about giving to Marquette is that you can truly know and understand where your gift is going and see how it is impacting the lives of students,” he says. “You are creating the next opportunity for someone to carry on the Marquette legacy and tradition. Being able to help and support the next Supply Chain student or Men's Soccer player is a passion of mine.”

Championing the future of Supply Chain

When reflecting on the Marquette Supply Chain program (Currently ranked #12 Nationally) that launched his career, John believes it’s one of the best in the world. “The skills and knowledge gained here rank with any institution, but what sets Marquette apart is the way students are taught to lead, develop and empower those we work with in Supply Chain and industry,” he says. “The values of Cura Personalis are embedded in everything we do.”

There’s one way to do business and supply chain, John jokes … and then there’s the Marquette way. “The Jesuit education and ideals pushed me to be a better friend, brother, co-worker, manager, and alumnus,” he says. “I hope to provide resources so Marquette can instill that with more and more students.”

Rallying young alumni

John views his support as a young alumnus as a demonstration of what Marquette means to him. “There is no dollar value I can put on what Marquette has done for me,” he says.

Part of John’s role as an alum is connecting with other Marquette alums. “We’re at a great inflection point for Marquette right now,” he says. “We’re becoming a nationally-recognized brand across so many landscapes where people from all over the world want to come. There’s a reciprocal energy you feel as alumni.”

Asked about advice for fellow young alumni and graduating seniors, John says, “Think about what was special to you over your time at Marquette and consider ways to get involved in those areas. Supporting the university can be as simple as taking a call from a prospective student or having coffee with a faculty member to share insights from frontline industry. There is never a bad time to start giving — no matter the amount — because every gift will do something to help the next generation of students,” he says.

Servant leadership in the goal

One of John’s favorite Marquette memories is winning in the 2013 NCAA Soccer Tournament at Valley Fields. “In typical Milwaukee fashion, it was below freezing in November, but the way we won and celebrated as a team is something I will never forget,” he says.

Collage of John Mau's Marquette Memories

The team was one of the most successful in Marquette Soccer history not only for its performance on the field but also for the team’s actions off the field.

“I was fortunate to have upperclassmen take me under their wings,” John says. “Each day, we made choices that prepared us for the field, off the field, and life after Marquette. Those teammates remain some of my closest friends. For me, it’s a great joy to ensure other Marquette soccer players and athletes understand the family they are joining and how special it is to so many of us.”

 

The Betsy Traczek ‘Say Yes’ Memorial Endowed Scholarship

Thanks to the energetic life and essence of one Marquette accounting alumna, accounting graduate students can say ‘yes’ to a Marquette education through scholarship.

Elizabeth (“Betsy”) A. Traczek’s spirit endures beyond her life, which was always open to the possibilities of saying “yes.”

Betsy’s can-do, will-do spirit blossomed as the graduate of Bolingbrook High School in Illinois came to Milwaukee in 1991. An accounting student in Marquette University’s College of Business Administration, she embraced her time on campus — from joining the Alpha Chi Omega sorority to cheering on MU basketball. After earning her B.A. in Business Administration and Accounting in 1995, she became a loyal alumna who reveled in returning to campus to celebrate her Marquette family. Indeed, once Betsy became part of something, she was all in. That included her career.

Just out of Marquette, Betsy became an accountant with The John Buck Company, a Chicago-based real estate enterprise. She worked her way up to Property Manager and ultimately served as a Principal, Director of Property Management, and member of the company’s Board of Directors. Adoring co-workers describe how “Betsy took extreme pride in her work” and had an ability for “being able to communicate with and lead at all levels” that rivaled her knack for numbers as “an accounting wizard.”

She never forgot from where she started and always was open to new adventures and opportunities. That included her dedicated work with the John Buck Foundation, especially its annual Spring Fling fundraiser — the leading charity celebration in the Chicago Real Estate community. Betsy was part of the backbone of the area’s profession, also serving on the boards of the Building Managers and Owners Association of Chicago and the Chicago Real Estate Network. Saying “yes” kept her busy! Yet not at the expense of her family and personal life.

The fun-loving Betsy always enjoyed experiencing all that Chicago had to offer. A true fan of the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, and Bulls, she loved sharing the city with family and friends — especially her nieces and nephew. From travel and concerts to time at her family and friends’ lake houses, Betsy was a generous, quick-witted, and kind person who, from all that she received, brought significantly more to life and those around her.

Cancer tragically claimed Betsy’s life at age 46. But her undying example of being open to the possibilities of saying “yes” moved her family, friends, and colleagues to establish the Betsy Traczek “Say Yes” Memorial Endowed Scholarship in 2021. Their contributions, matched by The John Buck Company, make it possible to annually award the scholarship to one Marquette student from Chicago in pursuing a master’s through the Accounting Analytics program. We celebrate this honor and opportunity to carry forward Betsy’s indomitable spirit for generations to come.

 

Bringing dental values into the field

Marquette alumnus Daniel Cook, D.D.S., M.S., owned a private pediatric dental practice for 50 years before transitioning to teach pediatric dental residents at the University of Washington, where his current chief resident, Tessa Holmes, D.D.S., Dent ’19, is a Marquette alumna. He has a particular affinity for helping first-generation dental students and residents from around the world whose hard work can set them on successful life paths.

“Working with dental residents gives me an opportunity to help close the gap for them between learning dentistry and doing dentistry,” said Dan, Dent ’66, Grad ‘72. “To truly prepare people for being in the field, actively doing dentistry beyond the classroom.”

Dan’s passion for teaching and mentoring in pediatric dentistry inspired his recent planned gift to Marquette’s School of Dentistry, which will help provide upgrades in the pediatric dental clinic, enhancing students’ opportunity to learn in real-world spaces.

“I received an excellent education at Marquette, and much of what I have is due to that,” explained Dan. “I’ve been blessed. Providing this support will help perpetuate some of the things I believe in and create a reservoir of goodwill for graduating dental students.”

Beyond his most recent gift, Dan supports Marquette through an endowed scholarship. He also supported construction of the current dental school, making a gift in honor of his parents that is recognized on a special plaque within the facility.

“There are no words for how powerful that moment was for my parents to realize the gift had been made in their honor and to be present at the 2001 dedication of the dental school,” he said. “My parents taught me the value of work and the value of thinking. Marquette perpetuated that value system, and I believe values are transcendent. They bind us together.”

 

Black Alumni Association broadens student access with milestone gift

Black Alumni Association President Nkozi “Jay” Knight has a special place in his heart for Marquette’s Ralph H. Metcalfe, Sr. Scholarship. After all, he was a recipient of the scholarship when he attended Marquette, and he’s also the inspiration behind the scholarship’s recent $10,000 gift — the largest in its history since the gift that established its endowment.

“The scholarship helped out with books and went a long way for me as a student,” Nkozi says. “It was important for me to be able to pay it forward, and I’ve contributed ever since.”

The Black Alumni Association Ralph H. Metcalfe, Sr. Scholarship has been helping students since 2003 and currently provides two annual scholarship awards — one to support a student in Marquette’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and one to support a non-EOP student. Over the years, the scholarship has benefited 35 students, including Nkozi.

So when his company, Northwestern Mutual, offered employees the opportunity to submit essays about their chosen nonprofit organizations as part of a Days of Sharing charitable grant process, Nkozi jumped at the chance to build on his personal philanthropy and submitted Marquette and the Metcalfe Scholarship as his cause of choice. His application was selected, and the Northwestern Mutual Foundation contributed a $10,000 gift to the scholarship in his name.

“It’s so important for today’s students to see that we’re invested in their futures the way someone was invested in mine,” says Nkozi, who recently accepted a promotion to assistant director of contract, licensing and registration for Northwestern Mutual. “There are a lot of struggles right now, but it’s not the first time we’ve overcome. Rather than complaining from our couches, let’s build something together. Give back to your university, your high schools and middle schools and build a different world,” he encourages.

Supporting scholarship can make it easier for kids who are experiencing their first time away from home at Marquette, giving them the confidence and resources to persevere through the first-year challenges of university.

“I loved being a part of Marquette,” Nkozi recalls. “The teachers who poured interest into me are some of my favorite memories. They invested in me, filled me with the Jesuit servant leadership skillset, and made me a better student and person.”

Paying forward that investment is part of why Nkozi stays deeply involved in the alumni association and as a member of Marquette’s Annual Giving Campaign Committee.

“I’m involved as a way to give back to the community and build the future leaders of tomorrow,” he says. Those future leaders include his nephew — now a current student at Marquette.

“It’s a way of saying thank you to the university for giving me the opportunity to flourish and become the man I am today,” Nkozi says. “I hope to grow the scholarship and offer it to more people. If there’s ever a time to step up, it’s now as we come out of 2020. I really hope this gift inspires additional alumni giving – I want someone to beat my gift!” he jokes.

 

Penning the future for communications students

Sylvia Wallace, Jour ’77, first considered Marquette because she longed to study journalism under then-J School Dean and Former White House Press Secretary George Reedy. Her decision came somewhat last minute, meaning less financial support from family and limited access to large scholarships, so Sylvia applied for dozens of small community scholarships to fund her education, working full time during school to make ends meet.

“I wanted to take advantage of every possible opportunity to follow my dreams,” she recalls. “Tell me I can’t do something and watch me go. The financial challenges made getting there even sweeter.”

Now, through a $1 million estate pledge toward scholarship, Sylvia—along with her husband, Lon—hopes to alleviate that burden for future communication students.

“If I can make the financial struggle a bit easier for the next student who wants to take on the world through a bedrock Marquette education, then I’m giving back what the university gave me,” she says.

She and her husband have actively volunteered throughout their married lives and decided to pledge substantial gifts to each of their alma maters.

“I believed in ‘Be The Difference’ before it was a motto,” Sylvia jokes. “Our family has been so blessed, and I attribute the basis for it to my years at Marquette. We wanted to make an impact for others.”

Making that impact at a Jesuit school was also a draw for Sylvia, whose best friend went on to become a Jesuit priest.

“Marquette was a deeply meaningful place for me. Those four years taught me not only who I wanted to be, but how to get there. It was the beginning of the life I wanted and made everything in my life possible,” she says.

When Sylvia’s grandchildren were thinking about colleges, she and her husband advised them to consider a university that taught three things: how to focus, how to think critically about the world, and how to conduct themselves as young men or women. For her, those life lessons aligned at Marquette.

“When I graduated, I was ready to take it on!” she remembers. “I had the ability to do whatever I wanted with my life. It changed my world.”

To those considering similar gifts, Sylvia offers words of encouragement. “If you had a wonderful experience at Marquette and it set you on a life path, then why not give that same opportunity to someone else? Part of being the difference is reaching out to help the next generations,” she says. “It gives them the beginning of the rest of their lives. I will forever be grateful for my time at Marquette.”

 

Scholarship and University Support: A Winning Pair

For Marquette alumna Joanne Topham (Bus Ad ’70), education is a source of positive change for many of the world’s challenges — from overcoming poverty to supporting future families. She recently doubled down on helping people access Marquette’s life-changing education through planned gift commitments that provide both scholarship for students and unrestricted support for the university.

“Students are our future leaders,” she said. “Education gives them the tools to develop their leadership and contribute to society, yet it’s hard to afford without help. Philanthropy is my way of making a difference for them.”

Joanne particularly recognizes the difficulties of today’s tuition landscape, with the pandemic causing additional economic hardship and underscoring the costs of maintaining technology equity for students now learning online.

“Marquette was a wonderful experience for me,” she recalled. “It’s allowed me to have a fulfilling career and life, and I personally appreciated the Jesuit aspect of my education and how it guided my growth. I hope my scholarship will help students meet the challenge of tuition so they can access similar experiences.”

In addition to supporting students directly, Joanne also committed unrestricted funds to the university to provide Marquette with latitude to address emerging needs into the future.

“While I can’t know everything about the university’s long-term goals or critical needs of tomorrow, I see the value of giving Marquette’s administration the ability to react to those needs,” she said. She cited the COVID-19 pandemic as a great example of how this kind of support may allow Marquette to pivot quickly, enact safety measures and address other related needs.

“I strongly believe in the importance of education, and my planned gifts allow me to have an impact on students, the university and society,” Joanne said. “I’d encourage others to consider how they can make a difference in the world in areas they feel are important to them.”

“I hope my gift plays a small part in inspiring students to inspire others in turn.
To encourage them to look at their dream life path and say, ‘I can do that!’” – Joanne Topham

 

Creating future smiles through dental scholarship

Marquette Dentistry alumnus Jeff Carpenter (Dent ‘86) is part of a dental legacy bridging from 1924—the graduation year of fellow Marquette alumnus Dr. Willard VerMeulen, whose practice Jeff first bought—to future generations of dental students thanks to his recently documented $1 million estate gift to scholarship.

“I’m concerned about the cost of education and wanted to help students,” Jeff said. Since Marquette had prepared him so well for his own dental career, he wanted to create a similar path for future Marquette dentists.

After reading one of our previous issues of Explorer, Jeff reached out to learn more and discovered that a planned giving approach allowed him to structure his support at a level that accomplished his desired impact.

The scholarship will provide tuition for one future dental student each year, with the recipient receiving support until graduation. In addition, Jeff’s commitment also honors his parents through the establishment of the named Dr. Herbert and Susan Carpenter Scholarship Fund. Jeff bought his father’s practice later in his career, and the two worked alongside until Herbert retired.

“I’m very pleased with what Jeff is doing,” Herbert said of his son’s charitable choices. “It makes me very proud.”

Jeff explained his gratitude about his parents’ ability to help with his own schooling costs. “I was fortunate,” he said. “With this gift, I’d like to provide a boost for students that empowers them to lower their debt so they can graduate and make a little money. My hope is that it inspires recipients to give back too and continue to pay it forward.”

 

'Within the Life of God:' Cecille's Story

With support from scholarship, Theology doctoral student Cecille is learning “what it means to really live life within the life of God” at Marquette.

“As a PhD student in theology, I feel a tremendous amount of joy and purpose in what I do. Being able to study theology at the doctoral level has allowed me to write and read more, focus my interests, and share my work with others in conferences. I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to be at Marquette,” she said.

Through her roles as a teaching assistant for three courses, Cecille has connected with professors and students alike about theological pedagogy. In the unique position of student and teacher, she is learning how best to draw students to the mysteries of God, and she hopes to carry these lessons on to her own, future students by becoming a professor in theology.

Using her scholarship fund, Cecille’s main goal is to help Marquette’s Institute on Method in Theology. Marquette’s Jesuit values allow her to study theology systematically and thoroughly and to share the significance of theological study, especially in this time in which many people are losing faith.

Cecille believes that, through scholarship, “we are able to reach many people and expand our understanding of the faith, leading us all closer to God.”

 

Building Moral Robots

Imagine you’re on the road with a fully robotic self-driving car, and an accident suddenly unfolds ahead. The car’s system needs to make an instant decision—should it save its own driver and passengers, save the other car’s driver and passengers, or save itself?

If Professor Joseph Schimmels and his mechanical engineering and robotics students have a say, the system will choose solidly based on ethics.

Dr. Schimmels’ research focuses on the design of multidimensional mechanical behavior to achieve desired dynamic behavior during physical interaction. Essentially, he teaches students how to engineer the sensors, data analytics, mathematical modeling and simulations that make up a system’s “digital thread.”

“As we develop these core technologies, there are a lot of ethical questions that come into play,” said Opus College of Engineering Dean Ropella. “Marquette teaches students the need to develop an Ignatian mindset, not just an entrepreneurial one. We want our engineers to always be thinking about the human impact. Are there ethical implications to what you’re doing? Someone has to make these tough calls, and since engineers are designing the systems, we feel a responsibility to be at the forefront of determining the approach and guiding principles.”

Marquette’s E-Lead program lays that foundation. The three-year undergraduate curriculum prepares students to lead, not only through innovation and technical expertise, but also through their character and ability to motivate, engage and guide within an ethical framework.

“Our graduates are world-class engineers, and they’re also world-class ethical leaders who serve the world in the Jesuit tradition,” said Dean Ropella.

Now expanded beyond Engineering majors, the first and second years of E-Lead focus on leading oneself and others with authenticity, active listening and collaboration. Year 3 culminates in leading technology and innovation.

“When it comes to engineering the type of life-saving decision mechanisms in the car example, in robotic healthcare applications, or in humanoid robotics, people want engineers with the ethics and morals found at Marquette,” Dean Ropella added. “Our field is a good illustration of how innovation and values come together and why it matters so much when they do.”

 

MARDI GRAS: Students Fill Their Hunger for Service

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, student organizations like MARDI GRAS (Making a Real Difference in the Gulf Region and Areas Surrounding) are more relevant than ever. MARDI GRAS was started by a Marquette College of Health Sciences student displaced by Hurricane Katrina, and it continues to aid hurricane victims in the Gulf Region and beyond.

Student volunteers like Roberto Varela, now an alumnus from the College of Health Sciences, roll up their sleeves to repair homes, lay flooring, hang drywall, and more. “Our physical acts of rebuilding are helpful,” he said. “But our greatest impact is letting homeowners know they matter. By joining MARDI GRAS, I not only found a family on campus but also in the areas we visited. The people of New Orleans are resilient, and it is truly a gift to spend time with and learn from them. The spirit of MARDI GRAS persists long after the trip and helps you love those around you so much more,” he said.

A beautiful, rare alignment

During her four years as a Marquette undergrad, Hilary Braseth, a 2011 graduate of the Klinger College of Arts and Sciences, participated in MARDI GRAS 13 times.

“Those moments were so much more than ‘a service trip’ for me. MARDI GRAS catapulted me on this lifelong quest to dig into the roots of what it means to be human, to belong, to be in a community.”

Hilary’s time in MARDI GRAS motivated her to do her own research on the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans and other communities. “Because of MARDI GRAS, I’m now building a technology company for small business growth in West Africa. I traveled to Guinea for three years while in the Peace Corps, lived in a mountaintop yurt outside of Los Angeles, and am studying for my Ph.D. in depth psychology.”

Like Roberto, she credits MARDI GRAS with fostering dear friendships and broader perspectives. “It granted me the opportunity to step outside the bubble of privilege I was raised in. To me, MARDI GRAS wasn’t just about the manual labor of gutting and drywalling. It was about the relationships. It was about opening the eyes of Marquette kids, planting the seeds inside each of us of what it means to not only serve for others but to enter into relationship with others. There was a beautiful, rare alignment between heart’s longing and world’s need.”

 

Recipient to Benefactor: Steve's Story

After walking the stage as part of Marquette’s first Biomedical Engineering class in 1978 and returning for a graduate degree in Electrical Engineering, Steve Murawski joked that he suddenly became a highly recruitable job candidate.

That skillset continued to serve him well during his diverse 40-year career path within GE. And it’s one he hopes to provide future grad students through his $50,000 gift to scholarship in the Opus College of Engineering.

“How students work in the environment today versus the classroom teaching of years ago is night and day,” he said. “Marquette offers opportunities to work alongside people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines, so students begin to understand what’s important to colleagues across teams in addition to their own interests. They learn to find the cooperation between the two.”

Steve remembers how his experience as a Grad School TA allowed him to interface with a variety of students, which helped immensely as he entered the business world.

“I really wanted my gift to help students explore the aspects of their engineering education or career goals that spoke most to them, and then position them to build on the robust network they’ll develop at Marquette,” he said.

He and his wife, Carol, considered giving via their estate but were drawn to the idea of seeing results in real time. They decided on establishing the Murawski Family Endowed Scholarship for Graduate Engineering Students.

“The help I got went to an individual student — me,” Steve said. “So I wanted to do the same and open doors that today’s students may not have thought would open for them.”

 

Drawn to Service: Zoya's Story

Imagine delivering life-saving dental care in Nicaragua, Panama and Brazil as a Marquette junior. For pre-dental student Zoya, these experiences are part of why she fell in love with service at Marquette.

“This was a type of service I had never experienced,” she says. “Where the focus is on connecting with and working with the community and each other. I’ve been able to help so many people along their journeys.”

Applying her skills in developing countries merges Zoya’s passions for public health and dentistry — a dream she’s pursued since completing dental assistant classes at her community college while still in high school. “I wanted to get the experience, make sure I truly loved dentistry, and save money for college,” she jokes.

Now, she’s looking forward to grad school. “I never thought coming here as a freshman that I’d have the dean of my college write my grad school recommendation letter based on a service trip we took together in another country. But that’s Marquette!” she says.

Building student community and service also inspired Zoya to launch Marquette’s first-ever Pakistani student organization, of which she is now president. The organization hosts co-events with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to help Pakistani students get to know each other over game nights and other activities.

“As students, we can get locked into a bubble within our major or college,” Zoya says. “Service and campus jobs can help you see other student experiences. I like seeing the visibility of cura personalis on campus from so many different angles. This school has changed my life.”

Students in Marquette's Nursing sim lab

 

Dreams of Nursing: Kasey's Story

Growing up, Kasey was a happy participant in sports of all kinds – even when they led to injuries requiring medical attention. Her interactions with nurses during those times sparked a dream of becoming a nurse herself. Marquette is helping this dream come true.

As an out-of-state student wanting to attend Marquette for its stellar nursing program, Kasey knew she would have some hurdles to jump to get here. The two scholarships she received helped her say yes to a Marquette education without financial stress. “Scholarships allow me to gain an education and prepare me for my future,” says Kasey.

Now in the College of Nursing, Kasey utilizes assets like the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare Center for Clinical Simulation, which allows students to perfect nursing skills in real world situations. “The Sim Lab is such a great resource, and professors are so passionate about what they do,” says Kasey. “They make me more excited and eager to learn.”

One semester, she worked with fellow nursing students to create a teaching plan for a hypothetical patient. After treating the patient, students were required to film themselves advising their patient on follow-up steps. The Sim Lab strengthens both the biological, bodily concentration of nursing while also solidifying the foundation of a Marquette nurse: empathetic human interaction.

Without her scholarships, Kasey may not have had opportunities like the Sim Lab. “Scholarships have done so much for me,” says Kasey. “I almost can’t put it into words. Being able to receive a scholarship changes my world.”

 

Pushing Boundaries: Emanuel's Story

Emanuel has always pushed himself. In academic competitions. In a cross-country move from Texas to attend Marquette on scholarship. Now, he’s pushing boundaries of nebulizer science.

Working with Biomedical Engineering Professor Lars Olson, Emanuel and fellow undergraduates are developing a hand-powered nebulizer to deliver aerosolized measles vaccines to people in rural or third-world areas where typical vaccines aren’t available.

“I’m focused on the impact our research will create,” Emanuel said. “It helps people see engineers as more than computers with faces.”

Emanuel’s time at Marquette began with an Opus Scholarship — one of several full-tuition scholarship programs within the college. His opportunity alleviated the cost burden for his parents and solidified his decision to attend Marquette. “It afforded me a chance to live my dreams and give back to my hometown, the parish I grew up in, and so many others through my education,” he said. “You can’t put a price on this.”

 

Opening Doors: alumnus Dr. Paul Andrews makes largest gift in history of School of Dentistry

In a career spanning more than two decades, School of Dentistry Dean William K. Lobb has had no shortage of surprises. None has come close to the one he shared on Saturday night. During a celebration the university held to honor Lobb’s 20-year anniversary as dean, the longstanding leader made a major announcement.

An alumnus emailed him, Lobb said, and asked if he could have someone call him back as he’d like to make a gift. After a few additional phone calls, the alumnus pledged to give a $5 million estate gift to the dental school. The pledge, which will focus on scholarships for veterans and their families, will represent the largest single gift in the history of the dental school.

Lobb then introduced the major benefactor, Dr. Paul Andrews, a 1974 graduate of the School of Dentistry who flew in for the anniversary party from his home in Orlando. He was greeted with a standing ovation. Originally from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, Andrews shared that he is the oldest of five kids, and as the son of a dairy farmer, he “grew up milking cows and fixing tractor tires.”
Dr. Andrews spoke to the crowd of about 200 alumni, faculty, staff and students in the Alumni Memorial Union ballrooms and shared what inspired he and his wife, Patricia, to make the transformational gift.

“The first time I walked through those doors, I was scared to death,” Andrews said, recalling the day he took the dental aptitude test that his future hinged on. Four years later, Andrews said he felt much different. “When we first walked out of those doors, they opened up to the world,” he said. “And, we walked out as dentists ready to take it on, because we were taught how to take it on.”


Dr. Andrews took an untraditional path before arriving at Marquette, serving six years in the Navy before attending college. The Vietnam veteran was inspired to pay it forward to honor his Godson, Jefferson, who aspired to attend dental school. He never had the chance as he was killed while fighting for his country in Afghanistan. Andrews also remembered eight members of his high school class died in Vietnam.

Andrews said that the university made him into the person he is today and that he owes all that he achieved in his professional career to Marquette’s dental school. He also credited the military, reflecting on the time he was a recipient of a Navy scholarship program. One of his goals, he said, is to reduce student debt and give others the same chance he had.
In a night filled with gifts and memories, President Michael R. Lovell kicked the event off by honoring Lobb, calling him the “dean of deans.” Among Marquette’s academic leaders, Lobb has the longest current tenure, which is six years more than the next dean in line.

Applauding Lobb for “continuing to guide the School of Dentistry into the 21st century by building and expanding a state-of-the-art facility that is second to none in preparing today’s dental professionals,” President Lovell went on to say that “the dental school is a shining beacon of excellence in our university.”

Lobb, who described himself as just a “humble immigrant from Canada” said he originally had no interest in a party honoring him. But, clearly many others in attendance did have interest.
Once he gave in and agreed to the party, Lobb said that he wanted the focus of the event to be on the future and the vision for the school. One alumni family made sure that would happen, cementing Lobb’s legacy with a $50,000 gift to start a scholarship fund in his name.

“I have never believed that what we’ve accomplished here at the Dental School is about me as an individual,” Lobb said. “It is all about the collective work of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the people who we serve that contribute to the progressive nature and culture of the dental school.”
Marquette’s longest serving dean has led the dental school through two capital campaigns, including the recent $16 million, 40,000-square-foot expansion to create additional clinical, lab and classroom space.

The expansion added enough clinical, lab and classroom space to accommodate classes of 100 students each year for an annual enrollment of 400 students. Marquette’s dental graduates currently practice in 69 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.
In addition to President Lovell, Chancellor Robert Wild, S.J. and Trustee Emeritus John Bergstrom spoke at the event, honoring Lobb.
“If you want success at a university, continuity of leadership really matters,” President Lovell said. “Bill has been a steadying hand for the dental school and we are really lucky to have him.”

 

Bridging Worlds: Alumnus gives back to help international students at Marquette

In his global insurance career, Bill Lagano traveled 4.5 million miles. That amounts to more than 1,000 trips from New York City’s Ellis Island to Paris. But it was the trips that others could not afford to take that inspired him and his wife, Pam, to give back.

The Laganos found that everywhere they went in the world, they heard a similar wish. “When we talked with local residents about their desires to come to America, we heard so often, ‘It is our dream, but we can’t afford it,’” Bill said.
He and Pam decided to help by making a generous estate pledge toward endowed scholarship for international graduate students at Marquette.

“We wanted to give students the opportunity to study at a great university on a daily basis,” said Bill, who earned his Master of Arts in History through Marquette’s graduate school in 1981. “Education means a lot to me. It’s the source of all good.”

Bill’s parents were first generation Americans; his ancestors emigrated from Italy through Ellis Island and eventually settled in Connecticut. For him and Pam, international travel has been a way of life.

They spend a month each year visiting friends in Italy. They’ve also hosted international students from countries like Italy, France and Russia and volunteered in Africa, Bosnia, Poland and Romania.

Pam and Bill Lagano love cultural experiences like these in Italy — something their gift will champion for international graduate students. “We’ve always enjoyed traveling. The thrill for us comes from the relationships we form with people of diverse cultures in different countries. It gives us a chance to see life through their eyes,” Pam said.

Their international volunteer experiences have shown them how truly life changing it is for youth to experience different cultures. “We both wanted to travel abroad in college, and now we can help students around the world have that experience by coming to Marquette,” Bill said.

The hope is that earning an advanced degree will give international students a leg up in their careers, whether they choose to work in the States, in Europe or elsewhere. Immersive learning in another culture will distinguish them from peers.

The Laganos also see reciprocal good from the scholarship, both for international student recipients and for those at Marquette who will interact with them and learn new cultural perspectives.
“I grew up seeing the good that comes from philanthropy, and I’ve always believed in giving back to industry, community and school,” Bill said.

“My experience at Marquette was absolutely fabulous,” he continued. “I made a lot of great friends, loved the teachers. That’s what I hope for these students. It’s meaningful while you’re there, but years after the thoughts sink in, the true value comes through. To be able to do something on behalf of Marquette brings it full circle, because the university did so much for me. We’ve been fortunate economically, and it’s a joy to help students along the way.”

 

Computing the Possibilities: Drew's Story

Drew Williams wasn’t interested in research. At least, that’s what she told herself when she applied to Marquette’s graduate program in Computational Sciences. “I thought I’d do my Master’s and leave,” she joked. “I just needed that extra bit of schooling and then I’d get an industry job.”

Now, she’s completing her dissertation and working on representing data for non-data scientists. “Basically, how do we create methods for people to take data and digitalize it in a way that makes sense,” Drew said.

She’d always been interested in computers and worked as technical support for family and friends during high school. That role lent itself to noticing a lot of design flaws in software, so Drew sought out programming classes for her bachelor’s at University of Chicago.

Growing up near Sherman Park in Milwaukee, Drew always loved Milwaukee and Marquette’s great personal values and lively campus. But it was the professors who finally changed her mind about research. “When I started taking classes here, I realized the professors were really amazing. They’re available and easy to understand. I met my future PhD advisor who asked if I’d ever considered research. It ended up hitting every skill and interest area I have,” she said.

Looking forward, she’s considering both the teaching-and-research route and the programming route. “I’m really interested in user interfaces,” she explained. Drew also champions Marquette’s COSMIC program, where people with bachelor’s degrees in any area can earn their Masters in Computation and Programming. She became the program’s first TA.

Marquette’s partnership with Northwestern Mutual and UWM is also right up her alley. “The new Data Sciences Institute is really exciting and beneficial,” she said.

As a scholarship recipient, Drew knows the value of donor support. “I had debt from undergrad and wasn’t looking forward to taking on more,” she said. “Without Marquette’s ability to offer research assistantship and stipends, I wouldn’t have been able to do the PhD.”

 

It’s That Simple: Dr. Joan Bathon

“I support scholarship to help others accomplish their professional goals.”

That’s Dr. Joan Bathon’s simple explanation for supporting different Marquette scholarships over the years, which includes creating an endowed scholarship in her name. For generations to come, students who otherwise could not afford Marquette will be able to grow personally and professionally because of Joan’s simple desire to help them do so.

Her desire to help is equally simple: it’s about paying it forward. If not for scholarship support, the Maryland native who yearned to spread her wings and attend a Catholic university with a high-caliber science program would not have been able to earn her biology degree from Marquette in 1974. “Marquette is as good a place as I imagined, providing me with a great education that made it possible for me to earn my medical degree back in Maryland. I will always be grateful for my Marquette experience, which significantly shaped who I am today.”

As the director of the Division of Rheumatology and professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, Joan has accomplished much. As an endowed scholarship donor, she is making it possible for others to accomplish their own goals.

It’s that simple for Joan Bathon; it’s simply invaluable for future Marquette graduates.

 

A Step Toward the Future: Jazzmine's Story

"For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to work in our justice system as a judge, particularly with kids.I want to be a role model and let them know they can become something great. I feel incredibly lucky to be on the path to live out my dream thanks to the scholarships I receive. It’s what motivates me to do good in life and pushes me to work hard to prove the investment made in me is worth it."

Many of tomorrow’s leaders will be formed by today’s scholarship support. Join us in helping students like Jazzmine.

 

The Letter That Changed Everything

Early morning, September 14, 2014
Markie Pasternak’s alarm clock blared obnoxiously, urging her to wake up from her slumber. She turned, peered at the clock and the ungodly hour of 6:30 a.m. stared back at her. On a Sunday. With darkness surrounding her Campus Town East apartment, she quietly slipped out of bed.

It would be several hours before most of Markie’s 8,000 hibernating Marquette University undergrad classmates would finally rise and face the day.

But, not Markie.
She had work to do.

Like every Sunday morning when the Packers played at home, Markie packed up and jumped into her mom’s car. It was unseasonably warm — unlike most of her trips to the field often referred to as the frozen tundra. With her mom having a precious day off from her job cutting hair, it gave them both cherished spare hours to earn additional income.

Together, they began the two-and-a-half-hour commute to Lambeau Field on a day in which they would never step inside the stadium and see the actual field.

Instead, they stepped into their decade-long routine. It was a mother-daughter routine that started as a way to raise funds in support of Markie’s figure skating lessons as a kid years ago and now had a new, urgent cause — her college future.

They lifted their red wagon from the trunk and filled it with Packers gear, cowbells and swag. From parking lot to endless parking lot, Markie and her mom roamed among the tailgate parties.

And one sale at a time, they began paying off her college education.

It was towards the end of their Lambeau Field pilgrimage that Markie’s mom dropped the one- liner that would change everything.
“By the way, there is a letter that came to the house for you,” she said. “It is from Marquette.”

Six months earlier — March 16, 2014
Flash back 182 days before the Lambeau Field mobile store and Markie was relishing the final day of spring break — a welcome respite from the end of a challenging sophomore year at Marquette. While she savored every moment of her first two years, there was never an easy day. She was, after all, the first in her family to ever attend college.

Her father had planned to drop her off on campus, but he wasn’t feeling well. Markie is an only child — years earlier, a seventh grade counselor picked up on the close Pasternak family bond and called them the “three musketeers.” Now, after losing his job in the recession while Markie was in high school, her father had been sick for the last few years. Markie leaned in and hugged him goodbye.

Time to head back to Marquette and the campus that had become her sanctuary.

Back on campus, Markie was studying for her marketing class that same night when her phone started to explode.

Where are you? her friends asked repeatedly.

This is weird, she thought.

She called home and instantly heard the worry in her mother’s voice. It had to be her dog, she thought.
Roxy had been sick and Markie always worried she’d get a call about her dog while at school.

“It isn’t Roxy,” her mom explained.

It was her father.

Markie’s world as she knew it ended that day. She dropped the phone and ran out of the room. Screaming.

When Markie returned to campus after her world had been turned upside down, a group of leaders within the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences were meeting inside Marquette Hall.

They had learned that on the same day that Markie Pasternak had returned from spring break, her mother drove home and found her husband — Markie’s father — completely unresponsive in his favorite rocking chair. She immediately called 9–1–1, but it was too late. He was gone.

One of their best and brightest students needed help. In fact, Markie was a remarkable representative of Marquette. As a student leader, she served as the president of the national Active Minds Student Advisory Committee.

Markie also has an incredible ability called highly superior autobiographical memory, in which she can recall in specific detail what she did every single day. Fewer than 100 people in the world have her ability.

As a student, Markie worked with psychology professor Kristy Nielson to provide extensive testing of herself and her rare abilities, with Markie serving as both subject and co-author of a research paper.

And now, Markie needed them.

Under the direction of Dean Rick Holz, the Marquette leaders came together knowing they had to do something. They worked the phones, connected with the financial aid office and sought a solution. They couldn’t bear witnessing Markie struggle through classes while facing a mountain of financial responsibility that no 20-year-old should have to climb.

Would she have a future at Marquette?


Six months following her father’s death:
Late evening, September 14, 2014
After their long day at Lambeau Field selling items out of their wagon, Markie and her mom drove back to their house in DePere.
Markie then picked up the letter.

The thought of opening the letter was stressing her out. So, she didn’t. She looked at the return address. It was listed as “Office of Financial Aid.”

Another bill, she thought.

How am I going to pay for this?

A few hours later, the letter still sealed shut, she arrived back at her Marquette home of Campus Town East. It felt like days had elapsed since her mom picked her up that morning shortly after 6:30 a.m. She greeted her three roommates, and consumed by exhaustion, she settled into her bedroom by herself. She had to face her fear head on. It was time to open the letter.
Here goes, she thought.

Dear Markie,
Marquette University is pleased to inform you that you have been awarded a $15,000 scholarship…

She looked once again at the letter that came from her Marquette family and sat in stunned silence. In that moment, she knew. It was one letter that changed everything.

Epilogue
Thanks to her $15,000 scholarship, Markie Pasternak graduated from Marquette University in May 2016 with a degree in psychology. She went on to earn her master’s degree from Indiana University in May 2018 while attaining a full scholarship, earning her advanced degree from one of the nation’s most prestigious higher education and student affairs programs.

In the months leading up to her graduation at Marquette, she described feeling “so grateful” and she wrote thank you notes to her many professors who either “listened to me over coffee, let me babysit their families to try and make ends meet or were just there for me.”

Markie is now proudly Being the Difference at Auburn University, where she was hired in summer 2018.

She is paying it forward as a staff member of Auburn’s Division of Student Affairs where she is the adviser for the university’s Active Minds chapter.

She is providing mental health services for students who truly need help — students just like her.

 

Changing Worlds: Djdade's Story

"I always knew I wanted to be an engineer. I grew up in the inner city and tried to make the best of my situation and show others from my neighborhood that there is a way to better oneself legitimately. While we never really had much, there was always room for opportunity.

Engineering really took off for me in high school when I met one of my teachers who worked on satellites and mechanical systems. He introduced me to how you can manipulate things to make better products and be more efficient. Now I see the whole world in a different context and see the needs of the world and the future needs of the world.

Scholarships gave me an opportunity to explore the field of engineering, and now I'm studying environmental engineering and specializing in water. These scholarships have allowed me to give back to the community that helped raise me. I've volunteered at schools, I've done talks, I coach. I come from a very underprivileged neighborhood,and I want kids to understand that if opportunity knocks, you should go after it. And never give up."

For Djdade and students like him, scholarship support means the opportunity to pursue what they never thought possible.

 

Making Dreams Possible: Jenn's Story

For Ph.D. student Jenn, the doors to higher education weren’t always open. As one of six children — and the only one to graduate high school — college was a pipe dream. The Colorado native achieved it, working full-time to afford community college and receiving a Pell Grant that helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from a local state school.

But her educational dream was not over. Accepted into Marquette’s graduate program in philosophy, Jenn took a leap of faith, enthusiastically taking the offer without figuring out moving and living expenses. Her faith was rewarded and dream fulfilled when she learned that a funded fellowship opened up for her three weeks before she was set to begin classes.

Because of donor support, Jenn moved to Milwaukee and flourished as a leader in the Marquette graduate community. She is now a doctoral student lecturer, opening doors for others — particularly women who aspire to become philosophers.

Jenn will tell you that the grace of her benefactors and Marquette made her pipe dream a reality. We can tell you that, in turn, she is fostering the dreams and potential of others.

"I hope to stand as an example for others, to bring attention to women as both cultural and academic contributors, talented and worthwhile scholars, leaders and educators," Jenn said.