Donor Makes it Possible for Young Women to Follow Their Dreams
By Mike Sauer
Many years ago in the small town of Ft. Smith, a young girl gazed into the waning light of an Arkansas summer sunset and dreamed of the adventures that waited for her beyond the distant horizon.
Now 88 years old, Kay Ravenel smiles at the memory, knowing that the young girl would become a successful businesswoman who followed her dreams to the far reaches of the globe.
"One of my major goals early in life was to travel," recalls Ravenel, now a resident of Palm Desert, Calif. "There aren't many experiences more rewarding than getting out there and seeing the world."
In addition to providing her a treasure chest full of indelible memories, Ravenel's travels and life experience have shown her just how invaluable a quality education can be. As a result, she has recently worked in concert with the USD Office of Planned Giving to establish the Kay Ravenel Endowed Scholarship with a combination of cash and two charitable gift annuities. The Ravenel endowment offers financial assistance each year to a USD female undergraduate student.
"Education is such an important tool for personal success," she says. "There is no substitute for having the learning experience to succeed in the world." A gift annuity is a contract under which the university, in return for a donation of cash, marketable securities or other assets, agrees to pay a fixed amount of income to an individual for their lifetime. For Ravenel, it was an easy decision to make.
"I attended a seminar that USD put on regarding the importance and value of gift annuities, and I really thought it would be a wonderful way to contribute to the university," she says.
She also credits her involvement with USD's planned giving program to some very emotional thank-you letters she read while serving as the executor of her late brother Gaston Johnston's estate.
"I received a number of letters from students who had written thank-you letters to my brother for the scholarship he had created at the University of Arkansas," she explains. "They were very moving, and it was wonderful to see what an impact the scholarship had made in their lives. It's my hope that students who receives this scholarship will feel the same way."
Ravenel remains an advocate of educational programs for women across the United States, including a stint as secretary of the Hawaii-Pacific branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She is also acutely aware of the trials and tribulations female students face when attempting to make the transition from college to the workplace.
After earning her bachelor's degree in business from Arizona State University, Ravenel was eager to ascend the corporate ladder by developing her skills as a salesperson, but the scales of gender equality were notably askew in her early days as a working professional.
"I really wanted to be in sales, but at the time, they didn't want women in sales, they wanted us in the office. It was hard to watch the men go out and make better money at a job that I was very good at, but that was just the way things were at the time."
Undaunted by the experience, Ravenel went on to cultivate successful careers in both sales and real estate, and did so by adhering to a simple philosophy: follow your dreams.
"If I had any advice for the recipient of this scholarship, it would be to set (her) goals, and stick to them. That's been the formula for success in my life."
Thanks to the vision and generosity of Kay Ravenel, other young women will be able to follow their dreams, wherever they may lead.
The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. Annuities are subject to regulation by the State of California. Payments under such agreements, however, are not protected or otherwise guaranteed by any government agency or the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association. A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.
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