Kalamazoo College's new senior associate director of planned giving, Matthew Brosco, spoke with alumna Elsa Lane Nelson '65 about her planned gift.
Before she started Kalamazoo College, Elsa Lane Nelson '65 grew up in the Milwood neighborhood of Kalamazoo and the nearby small town of Galesburg. K was just the right size to not get lost, and it was the perfect gateway to entire new worlds to explore.
Elsa loved K for both those attributes. After graduating, she pursued an advanced degree at Indiana University (Bloomington). She always wanted to move out west, and after living in Indiana and Wisconsin for a brief time, she moved to California. I recently caught up with Elsa at her home in Sonoma.
Q: How did you end up attending K?
A: While in high school, which was small, I decided a liberal arts college would be better for me than a large state university. I was afraid that I would be lost on a big campus. I visited several schools, and K was the last one. I was sold. The College became my first choice. I was happy with that choice when I was accepted, and still felt good about it when I graduated.
Q: What were your most formative Kalamazoo College experiences?
A: K stretched my mind and my worldview. I was shy, and didn't mix much with my professors other than with those in the history department. Even so, many of those professors outside my major affected me profoundly. The level of my English and literature classes was such that I had to work hard, but over time, I learned to think more critically. I became a better writer. In political science and sociology, both of which I enjoyed, I was introduced to worlds that I didn't know anything about.
I loved the opportunity to go to London to do the research for my senior thesis. I was a residence hall counselor for two years. That opportunity to work with girls from a wide variety of places and backgrounds was the foundation for my work in human resources. So, too, was my work with the Associated Women Students organization. Leadership and self-discipline, critical thinking and working with others were skills I began to learn at K. K also gave me confidence that my potential to develop proficiency in these skills was very strong. Developing self-knowledge was such an important part of my college experience.
Q: Why did you choose to include K in your estate plans?
A: Several years ago, my husband and I decided we needed to start making our estate plans. We felt strongly about supporting causes that are important to us. I received a top-notch education at K, along with a life-changing study abroad experience. I have a personal property trust, and in my will I have named the College as one of the beneficiaries. It was easy. I hope my gift will provide opportunities for others to have similar experiences.
Q: Why did you decide to leave an unrestricted gift?
A: I've been involved in nonprofits enough to know the value of unrestricted gifts to charitable organizations. The College's needs are not always known when you make an estate gift. I believe the College will be in the best position to determine its greatest needs when it receives my gift. If I did not trust the College to manage my estate gift, I would not have provided it in the first place.
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