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Planned Giving

Planned Gift Beneficiary: Bethany Kiel '11

Bethany Kiel

Bethany Kiel with Carrie and Bill Venema

This summer, Bethany Kiel, Kalamazoo College Class of 2011, worked as an intern for American Village Builders Construction (AVB). A business and economics major, Beth did not know she was interested in construction, even though her father works in the field. "It's a great experience watching something go up from ground to finish," Beth says.

Her work at AVB was part of the Monroe- Brown Internship Program, a high quality career experience provided through collaboration between the Monroe-Brown Foundation and Southwest Michigan First. In her time at AVB, Beth has become the expert in its new computer program for project document management. She dove into the program manual and helped to work out the initial kinks of the new system. "In my first week, I was introduced to new terminology and new computer programs that I had never seen before. I was thankful for the abilities that a liberal arts education gave me— to catch on quickly and to ask questions where you don't understand," Beth says. With her growing expertise, she was able to train project managers on the new program.

Financial Assistance For Success

"Attending K has presented me with opportunities not found at other schools," Beth says. "I'm not sure I would've been able to stay at K without the help of scholarships." As a senior, this is her third year receiving the Venema Family Scholarship. "Scholarships have greatly reduced my debt from loans," says Beth, "and given me and my family comfort in uncertain times."

The Venema Family Scholarship Endowed Fund was established in 1999 in memory of Amy Venema, making its first award in 2006. Charles Venema '33 initiated the creation of the scholarship to honor his late wife by establishing three charitable gift annuities with Kalamazoo College. When he passed away in 2002, the principal from the gift annuities flowed into the Venema Family Scholarship Endowed Fund. Charles' son and daughter-in-law, Bill '59 and Carrie Venema, of Kalamazoo, have created two deferred charitable gift annuities and made other gifts during their lifetime that will aid students like Beth who receive the scholarship. "We're happy to continue the support," says Bill. In the four years since the scholarship was first awarded, five students have received more than $26,000 in scholarships.

Giving Thanks

Since becoming a recipient of the scholarship, Beth has had the opportunity to meet Bill and Carrie and share with them her Kalamazoo College experiences. While in Strasbourg, France, for study abroad, Beth sent e-mails to Bill and Carrie about her first airplane trip, about attending a town hall speech given by Barack Obama during the G20 Summit, about playing on an intramural "le football" team and more. Before her senior year, Beth again met with the Venemas for lunch. At the meeting, Carrie expressed to Beth how much she looked forward to receiving those e-mails.

As she starts to think about graduation, Beth is considering a number of different options, including graduate school. Because of her newfound interest in construction and the connections she made with other Kalamazoo College alumni through her internship, she is looking into her opportunities in that field as well.

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