Engineering Future Opportunities at K Through Estate Planning
Stetson Society member Merrill Squiers ’92 had a Kalamazoo College experience that was simultaneously atypical and yet quintessentially K.
A self-described “terrible overachiever” in high school, Squiers graduated early from Delton Kellogg Schools with some community college courses under his belt. He started at K in spring term, straddling the classes of 1991 and 1992.
In addition to his unusual start at K, Squiers participated in the 3/2 Engineering Program. He spent three years at K, followed by two years at Michigan Technological University, ending up with a B.S. in engineering and a B.A. in physics. Squiers stayed on at Michigan Tech and completed a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.
Yet in many ways, Squiers’ experiences were classic K. While studying physics and engineering, he sang in the choir and got involved in the theatre department, mainly on the technical side. He brought that liberal arts mindset with him when he headed to the Upper Peninsula.
“I can contrast K with Michigan Tech, where I ended up being one of the few engineers who did theatre there, because of my experience at K,” Squiers said. “That was interesting. I never expected to be the lead singer in a musical, but there you go.”
Squiers also experienced the rigorous academics and the breadth and depth of the K liberal arts approach in ways that prepared him well for his future.
“K was incredibly demanding, and it provided a level of academic diversity that I hadn’t experienced in a small-town Class C high school,” Squiers said. “It was a tough school. Then when I went to engineering school, I felt incredibly prepared for anything they could throw at me. It wasn’t until I got into grad school that I actually was thoroughly challenged again.”
Since earning his master’s degree from Michigan Tech, Squiers has worked at Cybernet Systems Corporation in Ann Arbor. He credits his K experience with instilling communication skills that serve him well in tech fields, which are notoriously weak in that area.
“I write a lot of successful proposals in my job that win money for my company and help me succeed,” Squiers said. “I can be put on the spot, talk to customers and understand what they need, and be able to translate that into something very real. I think the diversity of my K experience provided me with a lot of tools that—while I didn’t understand it at the time—later on prepared me for being a productive citizen.”
He enjoys both his work, which is varied and involves a lot of prototyping and one-off projects, and the people he works with. He also does technical and website work for a nonprofit based in Cleveland.
Squiers chooses to give back to K in appreciation of the opportunities he had and in recognition of the rising cost of higher education.
“I know that college has gotten a lot more expensive than when I was there,” he said. “I was pretty lucky that even after three years of K, two years of Michigan Tech, and grad school, I was able to pay off my student loans pretty quickly. If at all possible, I’d like to help somebody else be in that situation where they can get a solid education and not be burdened by all this crazy student debt.”
To build on his outright philanthropy during his lifetime, Squiers has listed K as a partial beneficiary of his trust. He has opted to make his gift unrestricted, which will enable the College to direct the funds to K’s highest priorities when the gift is ultimately received.
“I'm never going to have children, and I wanted to do something that would have a positive influence on people into the future. Giving to K seemed like the best choice for my estate to give forward in appreciation of the opportunities I had.”
For more information about estate gifts and planned giving at Kalamazoo College, contact Andy Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269.337.7327.
Information contained herein was accurate at the time of posting. The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. Kalamazoo College does not currently issue charitable gift annuities in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Tennessee, or Washington. Oklahoma residents: A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. South Dakota residents: Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.