Drake pride and a commitment to the University spans the ages.
You don’t have to look any further than the annual Scholarship Luncheon to see a testament to this.
Alumni from across the decades conversed and swapped Drake stories with current students in Parents Hall in the Olmsted Center one afternoon this November. While everyone in attendance shared a common connection to Drake, there was a deeper meaning to this gathering.
Every student in attendance was the recipient of scholarships made possible by the donors in the room, and other supporters near and far. These students, who will become scientists, educators, journalists, business leaders, and more, are expanding their knowledge and understanding of the world and developing their intrinsic talents and passions on Drake’s campus.
And it’s because Drake supporters said “yes”.
The Power of “Yes”
Abby Bukowski knows the power of this “yes” and of the Drake experience. She is a junior majoring in environmental sustainability and resilience, with a leadership concentration and a minor in Spanish.
“I ended up choosing Drake for a lot of reasons, but the main one ended up being the connections I formed with faculty and staff, specifically in the environmental science program,” Bukowski said.
Bukowski spoke at the Scholarship Luncheon, reflecting on her Drake journey. When searching for a college, she visited nine schools. Drake was her tenth—and final—stop.
Bukowski originally intended to run track and field in college, but an injury during her senior year of high school gave her a bit of perspective. She started to think about what she wanted from an educational experience too, and Drake “checked all the boxes.”
“Every day I spend at Drake, I get a little bit more excited that this was the tenth and last school I toured,” Burkowski said.
Her experience in the Adams Leadership Institute is one that stands out as distinct. She started at the Institute as a sophomore and continued in her junior year. The Institute added a third year track this academic year and Abby will be able been able to continue with the Institute as a senior next year. The Institute is named for Donald V. Adams and the program teaches and reflects the leadership attributes of Adams, which he lived out and instilled in others during his time at Drake.
This academic year marks Adams’ 50th year at Drake. He served as the vice president of student life from 1969 to 2007, and in 1985, added the title of vice president for enrollment management. In 1995, Don became the executive assistant to the President. Don retired in 2007 and continues to be involved with the University in his retirement.
“When I think about students and the Adams Leadership Institute, if there’s one thing I hope they take from their time and experience in that particular program, it’s taking a genuine interest in other people and finding points of connection that can lead to all sorts of incredible change, not only in our lives, but in our community,” said Kristin Economos, director of Student Leadership Programs.
Students like Burkowski know firsthand the impact of programs like the Institute and University champions like Adams.
“I’ve gained really meaningful leadership skills and it’s helped me identify my strengths and how to best communicate those things, as well to form meaningful, long-lasting relationship with people as dedicated and passionate as Kristin and Don, and with my peers as well,” Burkowski said.
When Burkowski chose her major, she called it a “saving grace”. Unsure of what she wanted to study in college, an environmental science class her senior year in high school sparked Burkowski’s interest. Once in college, Burkowski deepened her passion and started exploring what this interest could mean for her after graduation.
“Drake has done so much to further my career goals and understanding what those goals might be,” Burkowski said.
Through her broad range of classes, Burkowski found her focus in urban planning. At the scholarship lunch, she connected with alumni and donors who have sat on zoning and planning committees.
Keith Summerville, deputy provost of enrollment management and Windsor Professor of Environmental Science, pointed Burkowski to student opportunities for research and she was able to work as a student research assistant as an undergraduate.
“Experiences like the Adams Institute and research are two ways my Drake education has fundamentally changed my life for the better and it is people like you who make that possible,” said Burkowski. “On behalf of all the students here and myself, I want to give the most sincere thank you to everybody who finds it worthwhile to donate to your alma mater and to make time to be here and be in conversation with students. It means the world to us and I’m sure it will stay with us for a very long time.”
Paying It Forward
For Bulldogs like Jeff, JO’88, GR’92, and Elizabeth, AS’88, Hatfield who have come before Burkowski, this spirit of generosity has been a guiding presence. The Hatfields have established a scholarship at Drake, but that’s hardly the beginning of their Drake story.
Jeff’s Drake experience starts with his parents. Richard, Jeff’s father and a Korean War veteran, attend Drake on the GI Bill, and was the first person in his family to attend college. Richard worked full time during college, graduated in just three years, and would return two decades later to earn a master’s degree. Hatfield’s mother, Rena, worked at Drake as an administrative assistant in the College of Pharmacy and the Provost’s Office, jobs that helped both Hatfield and his brother obtain their undergraduate degrees at a reduced cost.
Like his father, Hatfield also went back to graduate school, while working full time.
“My master’s degree helped expand my world analyze situations better, and it also allowed me to later teach here at Drake as a part time adjunct instructor,” Hattfield said.
And, Hatfield added, it “does get more Drake than this.”
Enter Elizabeth. She grew up on a small farm in Minnesota in a single parent household. The financial aid offered by Drake opened the door for her to attend the University, and meet Hatfield, who would later become her husband. The fastidious Johnson read the student handbook closely and noticed a section labeled “individualized major”. She seized this opportunity and went on to become Drake’s first-ever human resources major.
The Hatfield’s Drake story doesn’t even end there. When they were 30, they named Drake as a beneficiary in their wills, with some of the proceeds going to fund scholarships for students impacted by single parent households. They also recently funded partial scholarships for the same purpose and had the opportunity to meet the students they are assisting.
“For us, it wasn’t a tough decision, we were paying back our University for what it had given to us,” said Hatfield.
This “pay it forward” spirit from the Hatfields and countless other donors has empowered a new generation of Bulldogs to discover Drake as place to belong, grow, and prepare for meaningful personal lives, professional accomplishments, and responsible global citizenship.