Honoring a family tradition of lifetime learning

LaJeune AustinLaJeune Austin was raised by parents who gave in any way they were able. With nine children, they didn't always have the means to give financially but continuously gave their most precious resource: time.

Austin's mother visited the home of a sick friend regularly to cook, clean and care for her friend's special-needs adult son. Her father returned home from work one day, and when he heard a neighbor had a broken fence, he helped with the repair. These are just two examples of the family's generosity. The Austins' home was one where the door was always open, where any kid in need of a meal or a place to stay could walk in and find support.

During every mid-term and general election, Austin's parents volunteered at polling centers in order to educate and support the community. For them, volunteering was an opportunity to connect with others and provide support when possible. To celebrate her parent's legacy and support her desire to engage and educate, Austin continues to volunteer at polling centers every general election.

Austin's parents always kept community at the center but made a point to instill the value of education and learning in their children. "Neither of my parents graduated from college but encouraged us to pursue education. They wanted us to develop our minds, read different ideas and thoughts and form our own opinions," Austin says.

After completing three years at CU Boulder, Austin struggled to afford tuition and had to put her education on hold to work and save for her final year. She found a job in Denver and worked full time while completing her degree at CU Denver on a part-time basis.

Since her undergraduate years, Austin has earned two master's degrees. Austin's degrees in technical communication and legal studies enabled her to hone the needed communication skills she used every day in her career in finance—and to fulfill her passion for law related to NCAA compliance.

Austin's love of learning and her desire to honor the giving spirit of her parents propelled her to create a scholarship to support first-generation students at CU Denver and CU Boulder. Upon her mother's passing in 2013, Austin made the CU Foundation a beneficiary on her retirement plan.

"Creating a planned gift was a no-brainer, I get to use the resources I'm blessed with to help others. I want to provide first-generation students the hope that they can complete their degree" she says.

Through her current scholarship gift that supports a student-athlete at CU Boulder and her planned gift for first-generation students, Austin is making education possible for the students of today and tomorrow. Austin feels the gratitude for her support every day as she sees the impact in the lives of students and coaches.

Austin's life is an example of the value of lifetime learning and now she's made that possible for generations to come.