The Osher Foundation Supports Nontraditional Scholars

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Thirty years ago, Yvette Butcher arrived at Spelman’s gates as an 18-year-old, first-year, student ready to embrace her chosen path.  She learned about the histories and traditions that formed the foundation of the Spelman legacy she planned to uphold someday.  But just one semester into her first year, life changed her plans.  Now, more than 30 years later, Butcher has returned to Spelman to finish what she started.

“Yes, this is a true second chance for me,” said Butcher. “My daddy used to say, ‘If you do it right the first time, you won’t have to worry about doing it again.’ I have worried about ‘doing’ Spelman again for three decades.  This is an opportunity to prove who I am and to accomplish what I could have accomplished in the first place.  Returning to Spelman is nothing less than a blessing.”

Butcher’s story is inspiring and not uncommon for the 53 women attending Spelman as nontraditional students, also known as Pauline E. Drake Scholars.  This program was named for Dr. Pauline E. Drake, C’58, and a 32-year College employee best known for her commitment to continuing education. When asked about the program named in her honor, Dr. Drake once said, “Working with the returning women students was my passion. To see them overcome significant obstacles to accomplish their goals was such a rewarding experience.”

The average age of Spelman’s Pauline E. Drake Scholars is 41.  They willingly juggle families, jobs, and rigorous academic programs with their eye on the prize — the rights and privileges of a Spelman degree.  And while many of these women name “time” as the most difficult obstacle for them, they would also identify financial hardship as a significant concern.  Fortunately for Ms. Butcher and 12 of her peers, they are recent recipients of Osher Reentry Scholarships.  These partial scholarships provide critical tuition relief for nontraditional students in their pursuit of an undergraduate degree.

Last month, Spelman College received another $50,000 check from The Bernard Osher Foundation to support the fourth year of the Osher Reentry Scholarship Program at Spelman. “In a time of economic turmoil, we are seeing more and more nontraditional students returning to college to pursue a degree, said Rosa McQuay, Spelman’s scholarship coordinator.  “The Osher Reentry Scholarship has helped many nontraditional students finish their education or helped them to stay in school.  Without this funding, many nontraditional students would not be able to continue to pursue their educational endeavors.”

As for Ms. Butcher, she anticipates that she will complete her bachelor’s degree in psychology in May 2013.  “It is all working out the way it should,” said Butcher, who plans to pursue master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology. “I believe that I am where I am when I should be. I would not want to be anywhere else at this precious moment in my life. ”

If you would like to make a gift to provide scholarship support for the Pauline E. Drake Scholars, please contact Marsha Allen, associate director of Donor Relations, at (404) 270-5051 or by e-mail at mallen@spelman.edu.  – Written by Kristine Haskett, development writer, in the Office of Institutional Advancement.

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