By Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona and Poinciana Campuses
“Freely ye received, freely give.”
— Pepperdine University motto
When I was in middle school, I announced to my mom that I wanted to go to college. She replied, “If you want to go to college, you had better find a scholarship.” A few years later, I was invited to attend Indiana University as a Herman B Wells Scholar and as a first-generation college student.
There is no question in my mind that the opportunity to attend college opened many doors for me. If it weren’t for the Wells Scholarship, I can’t imagine how different of a trajectory my life would have taken. I know I would not have attended Indiana University as an undergraduate, and I would not have earned a doctorate from Pepperdine University, which has as its motto: “Freely ye received, freely give.”
After having been given such amazing opportunities, I feel a tremendous obligation to give back to others. How could I not do everything possible to open the doors to higher education for first-generation students in our community, including by helping them find scholarships just as others did for me?
I feel a calling to help all students believe that earning a college degree is within their reach. Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing our students achieve their dreams — oftentimes, against all odds.
Finding a deep sense of purpose helps to provide meaning in our work. The next time you’re caught in back-to-back-to-back meetings or trying to unbury yourself from hundreds of emails, I would encourage you to think of the opportunities that have been provided in your life and consider how you might “pay it forward” in service to our students. Their success, in turn, is the greatest gift of all.