Providing Scholarships for Future Teachers
Planned gifts from two Hornet alumnae — Mildred Caldwell (BSE 61 – Speech, Psychology) and Coleen Thebo (BSE 64 – English) — will continue to give education majors in The Teachers College the opportunity to chase their dreams through scholarships. Caldwell's gift establishes the Mildred L. Caldwell Donor Advised Fund, and Thebo's gift benefits the recently established Roger G. and Colleen D. Thebo Scholarship.
After graduating from Emporia State, Mildred was the educational director at the First (United) Methodist Church in Pittsburg, Kansas, for two years. After earning an additional major in social science in 1963, she taught for two years in Colorado before returning to Kansas as a history and government teacher at Flinthills High School. Mildred taught at Flinthills High School for 31 years until she retired in 1997.
At Emporia State, four areas will benefit from the Mildred L. Caldwell Donor Advised Fund — the Future Teacher Mentorship Award, the Mildred L. Caldwell Scholarship Fund, the National Teachers Hall of Fame and the Karl C. & Margaret C. Bruder Scholarship in Theatre Arts.
"Education has always been important to our family," Mildred said. "However, the funds to pay for it have sometimes not been readily available. As I was trying to decide who should be remembered in my will I thought back on my own school days and how the drought of the '50s impacted us financially.
"With that thought in mind I decided that part of whatever money was left should go to the Emporia State University Foundation," Mildred continued. "Hopefully, it will give students, who are in a similar financial position to what I once was, the means to complete their education."
Established in 2016 by Colleen, the Roger G. & Colleen D. Thebo Scholarship will provide scholarships for secondary or elementary education majors who graduated from a high school in Wyandotte County, Kansas. Colleen explained why she wanted to establish the scholarship.
"I worked because there was no other way," Colleen said. "My father had no money to send me to school, so I had to put myself through by government loans and by working. I had worked on-campus for a very short period of time and worked at Feld Chevrolet in Kansas City, Kansas, during the summers.
"I wanted to give financial assistance to students to attend school because college is incredibly expensive. I know that I needed help when I went to school, so I wanted to help other students, specifically from Wyandotte County."
Both Roger Thebo, Colleen's late husband, and Colleen herself were longtime residents and supporters of Wyandotte County. While Roger was a police captain, Colleen was a teacher until her retirement.
"I was influenced to be a teacher because of an educator I was taught by," said Colleen Thebo. "He did a lot to make me interested in the field of English, so I wanted to be an English teacher. Emporia State allowed me to become a teacher, which I then continued to do for 32 years. It was the diving board that got me into the occupation."
Colleen Thebo has hopes that her scholarship can provide the financial assistance that could help Hornets in the future.
"I hope it allows people who can't afford school to be able to attend and become what they want to become. Hopefully teachers, but if they don't decide to become teachers after their training, I hope it helps with their all-around education."
Dr. Ken Weaver, dean of The Teachers College, discussed the impact that Mildred Caldwell and Colleen Thebo have had on him.
"I am grateful every day for Emporia State University's students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends," said Weaver. "Generous alumni like Mildred Caldwell and Colleen Thebo invest in academic excellence and inspire all of us with their generosity and vision. Emporia State University's enduring impact on so many for so long has inspired my wife and me to invest in ESU's current and future success."
Added Dr. David Cordle, provost and vice president for academic affairs: "The gifts we celebrate today demonstrate the commitment of our alumni as well as the dedication of our leadership. We're grateful to the former students who continue to support the university, and we're fortunate to have dedicated leaders like Dr. Ken Weaver and his wife, Katherine, whose investment will help students both now and forever. "
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