Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For Want of $120

Last night El Jefe was going through some cabinets sorting through old family memorabilia deciding what to keep and what to toss as we prepare to move. He found an old scrapbook of his mother's that had mementos she saved from her senior year in high school.

He decided to take some of the mementos out of the scrapbook to save because the pages were falling apart. There he found a couple of letters from colleges to his mother. One of them, Drake University in Iowa, offered her a half tuition scholarship in the amount of $120.

"Wow," he exclaimed. "Imagine that. Only $120 stood between Mom and a college education. She never said anything about that." He speculated that her favorite teacher, who recognized her superior academic ability and encouraged her to go to college, had arranged the offer.

It seems such a small amount to us today. But it was the depths of the depression and the family was just getting by. More importantly, none of them had a high school education or could understand why you would want any education after that--especially for a woman. She was able to persuade her father to let her take a business course after high school to learn some accounting and secretarial skills.

So it was not to be for my mother-in-law, but she passed on her love of learning to her children and grandchildren. She passed away before any of her grandchildren finished their educations, but she is surely proud that 3 granddaughters finished college, one has a master's degree and another a law degree. And that her grandson is a physician.

El Jefe established a scholarship at his college in honor of his parents this year so that the want of $120 (or a whole lot more in today's money) would not stand between an able student and a good education. That would make her proudest of all.

5 comments:

Averill said...

Truly amazing. I can't wait to see what Dad saved.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I hope he keeps that letter. That's a treasure.

Wow. $120. I read somewhere that 56% of schools cost about $9,000 a year. That would be $36,000 total. Half of that, $18k. That's a 15,000% increase from $120. If the trend up continues at the same rate and we figure a time span of 69 years, then half of a college tuition will be $5,400,000 by the year 2078.

Eek.

cheesehead said...

God Bless El Jefe.

As someone who depended on the kindness and generosity of strangers (and my own grit and determination) to get my first degree, I can say that for some of us, even a small amount of money could have stood in our way, and changed our lives forever.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

Oh QG this made me cry.

Mary Beth said...

Well that is just too cool.

Hard to believe but when I started college in the early 80's my A&M tuition and fees were $136 that first semester. Tuition was $4 an hour then. Hah.