To my mother, it was glorious, being welcomed in the fall of 1965 into the home of the president of Wheaton College, studying the Bible and praying with his wife and the wives of the chancellor, the chaplain, and several professors.These women, most of them graduates of Wheaton, had been blessed with what my mother longed for her entire life—a completed, formal education.
Christ’s love had long ago erased Mother’s resentment over her own mother’s abandonment, which radically changed her life. Left to fend for herself, her two young brothers, and even her father, she lost the carefree years of adolescence and an education beyond the eighth grade.
And so there, in a home called Westgate (today the Alumni Association building), in the company of these educated women, she was awestruck, again feeling the twinges of inferiority welling up from her past.
But faith is the great leveler, for in Christ we are all equal. Status, abilities, and education count as nothing in the currency of eternity. And in those moments of prayer with her sisters in Christ, she knew she was accepted. The love of these women of Wheaton won her heart. And Wheaton College, with its calling to educate exceptional Christian men and women, would remain dear to her.
With all this in mind, and because I know personally the value of a Wheaton education, I urged my family to help establish an endowed scholarship in my parents’ honor. Through pooling our gifts together and making use of employer matching, we created the Kenneth and Margarette Stephenson Irwin Memorial Scholarship Fund.
My gifts are small, but they are compounded when combined with those of my family and an employer match. An advantage of endowed scholarships is that the money is never used up. Only a portion is awarded year by year, so that the fund can grow, making even more money available to needy students—for decades to come.