Tiffany Richmond isn’t much different from the average profile of students at Chicago State University.
She grew up poor; joined the U.S. Army after high school; was only able to attend college with financial aid – in her case, the GI Bill; and she needed to work while earning her bachelor’s degree.
But the 29-year-old did something unusual when she completed her business degree Dec. 15.
She donated $5,000 she’d scrimped to save up to the CSU Foundation – to establish a scholarship in the name of her late marketing professor Terrence Kearney, who died last month of cancer.
“I was just moved to do it, and was happy to,” said Richmond, who called Kearney a “mentor” who pushed her to succeed. “ . . . I knew I wanted to eventually give back to CSU, but it just hit me that I could give this little amount now, and maybe inspire others to know that you don’t have to have a whole lot, to give back.”
Officials with CSU say they can’t recall a student taking a similar action in the school’s recent history.
“Professor Kearney was just a very engaging educator, very warm and caring, and when Tiffany found out they’d both served in the armed forces, it really helped create a bond,” said Yvette Clayton, director of experiential learning at CSU’s business school.
“When we went to the funeral, she was so sad. As educators, you never know your impact on a student.”Kearney, who died at age 60, had been on CSU’s faculty for 16 years, having served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, then taught at DePaul and Marquette universities before joining the South Side school.
Richmond came to CSU last year with an associate’s degree she earned while in the Army. She took three of Kearney’s courses, and was a Presidential Scholar who graduated with a 4.0 GPA.