Students, young and old, praise endowment’s work

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October 30, 2015 - 12:00 AM

This year’s Allen County Community College Endowment Association’s Scholarship Luncheon featured two keynote speakers, Trent Johnson and Robert Thompson, who listed their experience at ACC as formative in their life’s journey.
For Trent Johnson, a traditional student in his first year at the college, the journey is just beginning.
“Going up through high school,” reflected Johnson, “I always thought I would be going right up to K-State.” Nearing the end of his high school career, however, Johnson was encouraged by an acquaintance at church to complete his general studies courses at a community college, where the classes are smaller and the instructors’ attention is more at hand. Doing so would also allow Johnson to continue laboring on his family’s farm in rural Moran.
According to Johnson, his time at ACC has helped him refine his professional ambitions. The native Allen Countian plans to transfer to Kansas State, where he will major in animal science with a business option. “Definitely all the scholarships and small class sizes that we can get here are a big plus over going to a state four-year college right out of the gate.” Johnson ended by thanking all of the attending scholarship donors who made his ACC career possible.
Friday’s second speaker, Robert Thompson, enrolled at ACC in 2002. He was well into his middle years at that point. He’d worked a variety of jobs across the years, in a variety of states, and had by then accumulated a large family. Leaving high school, Thompson never felt that college was the right thing for him. He, too, grew up in rural Moran, where “work, work and more work” was the order of the day. But in 2001, he declared himself, at last, college bound.
Thompson reflected on the power of a parent’s love in his short speech Friday afternoon. Thompson was 5 years old when he was adopted by a couple living in rural Moran. They took in his 23-month-old brother, too. “Two greater parents a child couldn’t have,” said the soft-spoken Thompson. “To take that love and to take my brother and I from Johnson County and to give us all the food, all the love, everything you could ask for. It wasn’t money that we needed.”
Thompson enrolled at ACC with the hopes of becoming a music teacher. While that dream never came to pass, Thompson has made a living pursuing his second love — cooking. He’s worked in the deli at Country Mart; then, later, at Walmart. He was a chef at Corleone’s. Currently, he is in his second year as the kitchen manager at Iola High School.
A measure of Thompson’s affection and gratitude for the college is the scholarship that he recently donated to the endowment. The “Papa Rob” scholarship — named after a moniker bestowed on the non-traditional student by his much younger classmates during his ACC days — is intended to buoy financially needy students hoping to earn a college degree.
“There’s a great deal of love that goes into this scholarship,” said Thompson, “because when my mother passed away, she left me the money to help create this scholarship. So, you could say she’s still adopting kids, still helping them to succeed.”
The endowment’s director of development, Cindy Adams, announced the names of this year’s new scholarship donors: Dan and Linda Johnson; the Iola Kiwanis Club; Iola High School Class of 1960; and the Burlingame Lions Club.
Craig and Georgia Abbott were also recognized for their gift of $25,000. In honor of which, the college’s athletic training room will bear their names.
Adams closed with the figures, describing this year as another “very healthy financial year.” The endowment’s total portfolio earned 4.92 percent, with assets totaling $5,351,348.90.

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