Education: the safe hangar

Support WSU and help the economy

Beth Tully, Cocoa DolceBeth Tully '76 is owner and operator of Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates and Kansas' only master chocolatier. She also is a popular and frequent speaker on entrepreneurial initiatives. 

State Funding vs. Tuition Support
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State Funding vs. Tuition Support

Despite modest downticks in unemployment, the nation’s economic outlook remains sobering. In Kansas, the unemployment rate has dropped from the state’s historical high of 7.6 in August 2009 to 6.5. While the downward trend is positive, it’s unsteady. Case in point: Boeing’s Jan. 4 decision to shutter its Boeing Defense Space & Security facility in Wichita by the end of 2013, a disheartening action following expectations for growth. The closure directly affects some 2,100 highly skilled local employees.

If there is a safe hangar to be found in these uncertain economic times, education is it. Consider: While the Nov. 2011 unemployment rate for high school graduates with no college is 8.4 percent, the rate for college graduates is precisely half that at 4.2 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, individuals with a bachelor’s degree to their credit earn some $400 more each week than do those with only a high school diploma, based on the bureau’s 2010 figures for median weekly earnings.

Education pays off in both lower unemployment and higher earnings. Yet many prospective students — especially those from underrepresented groups — see higher education as too costly or simply unattainable. Sadly, such views have seemed to gain traction over the same time period that state funding for higher education has steadily declined (see chart).

Investing in education is crucial: A highly educated work force is a basic driver of economic growth. Wichita State is banking on the future with an ever-growing fleet of scholarships available to help all kinds of deserving students. For instance, the Changing Faces program, offered by the WSU College of Engineering, encourages a diverse range of students to consider educational and career pursuits in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

One Changing Faces participant is Sanjuana Martinez, who explains the program this way: "It introduces the many fields in engineering and all that Wichita State has to offer to students, like me, who are underrepresented in engineering. It means I share classrooms at WSU with more diverse students who share the same interests as I do."

Martinez, who has changed from an aerospace engineering focus to bioengineering, plans on completing both a master’s degree and a doctorate in the field.

"I highly recommend this program. It gives students the possibility of pursuing a career in engineering after engaging in all the wonderful learning experiences."

This initiative is just one way for individuals’ and corporations’ private support to help WSU put higher education within reach for a larger number of potential students. Learn how you can help by contacting Terre Johnson, WSU Foundation vice president for major gifts, at terre.johnson@wichita.edu or (316) 978-3808.

© 2014 Wichita State University Foundation

Wichita State University Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.