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Ben Gardner is Grateful that Kay Groves, ’31 Chose to Give Back to Park
Back in the 1920s, a young woman named Kathryn Houghton Groves, ’31, wanted more than anything to attend Park College. Her dream came true in 1927 when her father put her on a train bound for Parkville, Missouri.
“There was only one way I could attend college and that was with a scholarship.”
Groves, who is known to her friends as Kay, had written to several colleges in the state, but the one she wanted to attend was Park. She had read that all of the students worked part-time there and that only those graduating in the upper fourth of their high school classes were accepted. Most importantly, she had learned that Park offered scholarships to assist students.
Park still provides scholarships today, and it also helps others create them. For Groves, a passionate scholar all her life, creating a scholarship was a way to say thank-you for all her wonderful experiences at Park. It was also a way to help others share her dream of earning a college degree.
In 2001, Groves established an endowed scholarship to help deserving students at Park. Her gift also honors the professors who inspired her and helped launch her career in education. Groves makes a gift to Park each May as a birthday gift to herself. For icing on the cake, she has invited former classmates to join her as a member of the Howard Bailey McAfee Heritage Society —a group of donors who have named Park in their wills or estate plans.
Endowed scholarships, such as the one that bears Kay Groves’ name, provide deserving students like Ben Gardner with opportunities they once only dreamed about.
Gardner, the eldest of five children of Baptist missionaries in South America, is the recipient of the 2003 Kathryn Houghton Groves Endowed Scholarship.
Gardner is a sophomore majoring in English with an education emphasis. He chose Park for its small class sizes, personal attention, and classroom interaction. Thanks to Groves’ and others’ generosity, scholarships and grants are available for students at Park.
Gardner, who says he couldn’t see himself anywhere but Park, attributes much of his development as a student and person to the experiences that Park offers.
“Receiving the Kay Groves scholarship meant I didn’t have to work so many hours each week. It freed up my time for study and volunteer work in the community,”
In addition to attending classes, Gardner works 30 hours per week at an insurance company, is active in his church, and runs a weekly radio show. At Park, Gardner enjoys meeting and interacting with people from other parts of the globe. Attending Park has also helped him grow as both a person and a teacher — an observation also expressed by Kay Groves.
Gardner is thankful to that young woman who packed her bags, boarded a train for Park, and stayed the course in 1931. “Her civic-mindedness is a challenge to me to use the resources she has given me to contribute to society,” he said, hoping someday to follow Groves’ example and leave a legacy to help others achieve their goals.