A gift that supports students and honors loved ones
Giving to CU can take many forms: from supporting your senior class gift to creating a scholarship fund, there are a variety of ways people who love one of our University of Colorado campuses can show their support. Jennifer Hane, an alumna of our University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) campus, was inspired by her grandparents to make a gift that will provide sustained support for engineering students for years to come.
We sat down with Jen to learn more about her generosity and what inspired her to make such an impactful gift at this point in her life. Her decision to honor her grandparents by creating a future endowment with her retirement funds is especially sentimental.
- What inspired you to make this gift and what was your thought process in creating a future endowment to honor those you love?
My grandfather, Harold Haddon, was a CU Boulder graduate, and his education completely transformed his life. He came from a low-income background — in fact, at one point his family lived in a chicken coop — and he was the first in his family to attend college. While excelling in the engineering program at CU Boulder, he also ran track and worked to fund his education. The year he graduated in 1942, commencement was canceled due to WWII, but he maintained a strong connection to the University of Colorado throughout his lifetime. One of the highlights of his life was being recognized at commencement for the 50th anniversary of his graduation and being honored as a CU Boulder Living Legend. After my grandparents and my mother passed away a few years ago, I wanted to do something meaningful to honor their legacies, all of which were a direct result of my grandfather's time at CU.
- What type of gift did you make and can you tell us about the process you underwent to complete this gift?
I am currently working to create a scholarship fund that will be funded through my retirement account which will support engineering students from low-income backgrounds who are attending UCCS (my alma mater). Preference will be given to students who are Colorado residents and who are the first in their family to attend college.
- People are becoming more aware about the need to plan financially for the future. Tell us, what led you to work with a professional advisor to create your estate plan?
Life never goes as planned, and while I knew that fundamentally, it became very real when I lost five family members in a six-year period, including my mother. Each of these individuals had completed estate plans that made their wishes clearly known and that benefitted the loved ones they left behind. I'm currently single and have no children, so in creating my own estate plan, I wanted to consider the ways in which I could honor the people who had the greatest impact in life in a way that would continue to unfold into the future.
- What experiences did you have at UCCS that created the close affinity and strong appreciation you feel for your alma mater today?
My grandfather was thrilled that I chose to attend the University of Colorado. He was hopeful that I would follow his path to CU Boulder, but UCCS was a better fit for me at the time. I cannot tell you how proud he was when my career path led to CU and to what is now a 15-year professional relationship with the university.
- Was there a special instructor at UCCS from whom you especially enjoyed learning from?
I was fortunate to have amazing professors at UCCS both in and out of courses for my philosophy major. I also worked on campus during my studies, and my job in administration provided great opportunities and connections that directly led to the role I have today in alumni relations and annual giving.
- If you could provide a piece of advice to future UCCS graduates, what would you tell them?
Focus on not only what you want to achieve but also on the legacy you'll leave behind. Every connection and conversation you have with someone, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can change the course of someone's life. I talked about this a lot with my grandmother, Margaret, in the days before her death. You'll never know the impact you can have, both now and into the future. Your story and reach are always unfolding.
- How can we create more feelings of affinity and appreciation in our graduates so that they too will want to give back to the University one day?
I encourage alumni from all CU campuses to think about the people who made a difference in their lives and how they can honor them. Whether it was a professor who drove you to explore new areas of study or a family member who helped you see what education can make possible, think about how you can celebrate that and use it to inspire others. There is no greater gift than knowing your reach and impact will extend far beyond your own lifetime.