Paying It Forward: One-of-a-Kind Gift Encourages Students to Give Back
Southeast Missouri State University alumnus Lawrence R. Kem values the importance of an education. He firmly believes in putting back into the institution that fostered his success.
"Figure what your education has been worth to you and put back, for use by today's students, as much as you can afford," says Kem.
Kem has done just that in developing an innovative and unusual "pay it forward" type of fund where he gives to a student who in turn gives back to another deserving student.
Kem worked with the Southeast Missouri University Foundation to establish the Barbara Hope Kem Fund to accommodate his unique idea of supporting Southeast students and to honor his late wife.
"My initial thoughts about recipients, qualifications and the repayment feature related to my situation as a Southeast student. My parents were far from wealthy but were extremely encouraging in my college career. So when, in the last couple of years, I ran out of money, Mom and Dad agreed to loan me the monies I needed to attend. It was a non-interest bearing loan but clearly was to be repaid," explains Kem. "The Foundation and I explored a number of options to create a vehicle like my folks provided for me-no interest, covering much but not all of the basic fees, to be repaid and conditioned on financial need and academic performance."
This spring, his idea will come to fruition as the Barbara Hope Kem Fund will be awarded for the first time. Each recipient will be required to sign a pledge commitment with the Foundation for an amount equal to what they received. The student will begin repayment one year after leaving Southeast, repaying 10 percent of the amount each year over 10 years.
Kem also wanted students to be involved in the selection process, so the selection committee must have significant student representation.
"Student Government, and students in general, are very involved in the process of selecting recipients for this award," says Student Government President Sarah Snyder.
"The committee is chaired by the Student Government Rules Committee chair and includes four students (three of which must represent different colleges), the student regent, a representative from the Foundation and a representative from the Scholarship Office."
The student committee members interview prospective candidates, review applications and score essays.
"Overall, students have been invaluable in serving on the committee and in determining the process by which winners are selected," says Snyder.
Kem is hopeful that his contribution will have a great impact on future Southeast students. "If I ruled the world, the fund would provide scholarships for about three students at a time and would be repaid to give the fund a life for a number of years into the future."
The creation of the Barbara Hope Kem Fund illustrates the successful outcome when donors work with the Foundation to put their personal stamp on their contribution to Southeast.
To learn more about how you can make a difference to Southeast students through endowed scholarships, visit www.semofoundation.org or contact us at 573.651.5935 or 888.812.3769.