For many, a college education is out of reach, financially and practically. For others, a foray into a huge university leads to confusion, disillusionment, and drop-out status.
Enter Chatfield College, a small institution in southwest Ohio, designed to serve students against whom the odds are stacked.
Chatfield began in 1960 on the campus of a Catholic convent and boarding school (which, full disclosure: I attended for three years), the dream-child of a senior Ursuline sister. Ursulines at that time were destined to spend their lives as teachers, but when they entered the convent, typically at about age 18, they spent two years in seclusion on the convent campus before beginning their college studies. Sister Miriam saw time and talent being wasted, and wondered why the young women could not complete two years of college right were they were, right where they needed to be for their initial religious formation. Thus in a small building without even a telephone, a fully-accredited two-year college was born. The young sisters were able to begin their studies immediately, and transfer to four-year colleges and universities later, having lost no time and no ground.
Today, Chatfield serves a much broader community, with both its original rural campus intact and a newer campus now established in Cincinnati. Some students start with a GED program, some come because it provides an inexpensive, small, and nurturing opportunity close to home, and some have been stranded in large universities difficult to navigate. Many are single, working parents. You can read one of their stories here.
After our son died, we wondered what we might do to honor his memory. Some years later, the lightbulb glowed: Why not a scholarship at Chatfield? After some conversations with the Development Director, we decided to establish a fund to support travel in memory of my mother and youngest brother as well as our son. Travel is a passion in our family, and is the sort of adventure difficult for Chatfield students to afford. In November, after my father died, we added his name to the fund, and were able to reach our first goal. Some of the interest income has already been spent!
Last week I had the pleasure of travelling to Chatfield for the annual scholarship luncheon, at which I kept running into people with inspirational stories. The president of the college is, like me, a former practicing attorney. He dreams of taking a group of students to Virginia to see constitutional history come alive, and asked if I’d like to join them. Another dream for the future!