Planned Gift to Support Student-Athletes
George Jenkins, ’63, and his wife Gina, recently established a $1 million planned gift to create the Gina and George Jenkins Student-Athlete Scholarship Fund. The scholarship will give preference to students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly those from the Appalachian region.
George Jenkins was raised in central Appalachia, a region that has faced unique adversity in the shift to a post-industrial era, including a lack of access to employment opportunities, education and social services. As a first-generation college student, Jenkins knows how impactful scholarships can be for students like himself.
“I was born and reared in a coal mining region in Appalachia with humble economic beginnings,” Jenkins said. “My father was a coal miner, and my mother worked in the home. Education was never discussed in our house, and no one encouraged me to obtain an education. Fortunately, I received athletic scholarships from Kent State which, along with numerous jobs, allowed me to pay my way through undergraduate school.”
Kent State not only helped Jenkins pursue higher education through athletic scholarships, it also provided him the support and confidence to expand his educational and career aspirations beyond anything he had previously imagined.
“I had never considered anything beyond an undergraduate degree,” Jenkins said. “But Dr. James Karge Olsen, who taught constitutional law and jurisprudence courses and was head of Kent State’s Honors program at the time, had a different plan: he encouraged me to attend law school. Being unsophisticated and unfamiliar with graduate programs or law school, I resisted his efforts, but Dr. Olsen persisted and eventually persuaded me to take the LSAT. My score on the test was so high that for the first time in my life I thought I might be bright, that I could have a future using my brain rather than just my brawn.”
In March 2022, Jenkins tied his lifelong appreciation of Dr. Olsen to the Jenkins Student-Athlete Academic Center that provides student-athletes with access to tutoring, mentoring, learning specialists and academic counseling by making an additional $100,000 pledge to have the lobby of the center officially named The Dr. James Karge Olsen Lobby. That same month, Jenkins established the Jenkins-Olsen Athletics Academic Enhancement Fund, created to enhance the academic programming and services available at the Jenkins Center.
Jenkins’ support will continue to help decades of first-generation students, students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds and Kent State student-athletes go on to make the world Forever Brighter.