Bill and Trudy Ausfahl’s Scholarships Positively Impact Students’ Finances and Future Purpose
“That’s the only way we get ahead, all of us – if those of us that can, provide for those who can’t.”
Impactful words from William (Bill) Ausfahl.
Bill and his wife, Trudy Ausfahl, ’62, know about giving back. Supportive of many causes that inspire them, several years ago Trudy made the decision to endow three Kent State University scholarships in honor of her late aunt, Celestine Staley, ’33, and her late father, Kent Wierman.
The William and Trudy Ausfahl Medallion Scholarships (Founders Scholarships), and The William and Trudy Ausfahl Founders Fund, are named in honor of Celestine and Kent. These merit-based scholarships benefit students enrolled in the College of Education, Health and Human Services who need financial assistance.
“We wanted to designate these scholarships for students who have the need,” Bill said. “It’s not easy to be a student these days. When we were students, the tuition for me at Berkley was $85 a semester and Trudy’s was $100 a quarter. That’s 55-60 years ago; back then, states supported institutions of higher education almost 100 percent. Today, states’ support of higher education institutions is only around 12 - 18 percent, so it makes a big difference.”
“We were both fortunate to have parents that could help us pay for school,” Bill continued. “But because of our fathers’ experiences, we’re very sensitive to how hard it is for many to afford college.”
Trudy’s aunt, Celestine Staley, chose Kent State because it was one of the best schools around for future teachers, and after graduation had a successful career as an area teacher. But Trudy’s father, Kent Wierman (who was an engineering student at Kent State), was not as fortunate financially. Because of the Depression, he had to leave Kent State because his family didn’t have enough money for him to continue. Due to the war and other life altering events, he was never able to return to finish his degree.
Bill’s father also had to leave his university in California because of the Depression, but was fortunate enough to earn enough money to complete his engineering degree. He did this by working for one to two years as an oiler on a tanker that traveled through the Panama Canal, and back and forth between California and Maryland, carrying crude oil and finished product. While completing his degree, Bill’s dad also met and fell in love with Bill’s mother. So while returning to school was difficult, it was worth it.
Understanding the need of college students was one reason the Ausfahls, who have three sons, decided to establish the scholarships. But there was another reason as well.
“We also wanted to give back,” Bill continued. “We were fortunate enough to have the ability to do that, and to help institutions that have helped us. That’s the only way we get ahead, all of us – if those of us that can, provide for those who can’t.”
When asked about her thoughts on giving back, and what she would tell someone who was considering doing just that, Trudy summed up her feelings quite succinctly.
“You’ll never be sorry you did.”
That feeling was driven home for the Ausfahls in March 2018, when they were able to meet two of their scholarship recipients in person. Kyle Anderson, an Integrated Mathematics major who has a projected graduation date of 2019, and Brooke Clucas, a Middle School Education major projected to graduate in 2021, discussed the impact of receiving their scholarships during their meeting with the Ausfahls.
“If not for this scholarship, I most likely would not have been able to attend Kent State,” Brooke told Bill and Trudy. “It was going to be really difficult.”
Kyle was also able to express the resounding impact that receiving this support from the Ausfahls was having on his life.
“It’s definitely taken a lot of the financial burden off my shoulders and my parents’ shoulders,” Kyle said. “I have a lot of friends who constantly worry about how they’re going to pay for tuition and bills, and this scholarship has really allowed me to not have to continually worry about that.”
For Kyle, the Ausfahls’ support also opened a door to the world.
“Their support also allowed me the opportunity to participate in Kent State’s Florence, Italy study abroad program,” Kyle said. “Without the scholarship I wouldn’t have had the extra funds to be able to have that experience.”
The Ausfahls’ support is assisting students today, but their impact will be endless. Their scholarships are endowed scholarships, so they will continue to support students in perpetuity. In addition to this direct financial impact, there’s another impact as well: the effect on the recipients’ future purpose.
“We’ve told our student recipients that we want them to give back, too,” Bill said. “We want them to remember that somebody helped them when they were in school, and when they have a chance, give back with their time or financially to the institutions that mean something to them; just give back to the community in some fashion.”
And that’s a purpose-driven lesson already being learned by the students whose lives the Ausfahls are so profoundly affecting.
“Receiving this gift is making me hope that one day I’ll be able to do the same thing they’re doing,” Brooke said. “Helping other students be able to pay for college.”