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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue

       

A couple's $1 million impact on low-income students

Many things influenced Barbara Minor’s life – family, friends, mentors, to name a few. But equally powerful was a college experience at Wichita State University that opened her eyes to opportunities that would transform her life.

When an aunt dropped her off at Grace Wilkie women’s dormitory on the WSU campus in 1971, Minor stepped into an unfamiliar environment. The youngest of seven children whose parents farmed near Medicine Lodge, she had grown up poor. She recalls having three dresses to her name (“one new and two hand-me-downs”) and living in a house that got electricity when she was in high school. Grace Wilkie was the first place she lived with running water.

Barbara and Michael Minor
Barbara and Michael Minor

“If there was an official poverty level at that time, we definitely would have been below it,” she says with a laugh, speaking by phone from her home near Lynchburg, Virginia.

She was rich in other ways – parents who valued education, a cousin who convinced her to dream big. She enrolled at WSU, majored in engineering and embarked on a career in the nuclear industry.

Now retired, Minor and her husband, Michael, want to give back to Wichita State by easing the financial burdens of college for low-income students. They have pledged a gift of $1 million from their estate to endow the Barbara and Michael Minor Engineering Scholarship.

“If you help one student through college, you’re doing so much more than changing just that one life,” Minor says. “You’re also touching all the people in their life – their children, their parents, their community. We hope this scholarship does that many times over.”

Because of their successful careers, Minor and her husband had the financial means to help their own families and to support charitable causes, such as the Boys and Girls Club of Lynchburg, where Minor serves on the board of directors. “Wichita State helped make these things possible,” Minor says.

She also appreciates that WSU welcomed students who had to work their way through college. “From my peers to my professors, they understood that some students had to work. Wichita was a place with a lot of industry where you could find good jobs.”

She also recalls WSU as a place that helped her grow socially. Her college roommate became a lifelong friend.

Minor chose to pursue engineering partly because of experiences growing up on a farm where she helped her father repair and rebuild machinery. She was often the only woman in her engineering classes, so she hopes the scholarship will target female students.

After getting a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, she moved to Virginia with Michael, then returned to Wichita to work for the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant. While in Wichita, she earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at WSU.

Minor and her husband toured the WSU campus recently and were impressed by its beauty and by development of the Innovation Campus.

“I really give credit to the university for trying to partner with different companies and give students some great work experience,” she says.

For more information

If you would like to learn more about planned giving, contact Chad Clark, WSU Foundation planned giving officer, at 316-978-3407 or chad.clark@wichita.edu.

Marya McCrae