Inspired to promote greater racial equity, Kurtis and Suzie Schultz created the Lucky Taylor Scholarship to support diversity within the classroom
When Suzie Schultz visited K-State as a high school student, she crossed paths with Kim Lucky, a custodian in McCain Auditorium. Kim would share what he learned from the different speakers that came to McCain. Suzie was inspired by his eagerness to learn and how he took the time to encourage her. When she became a student, she would detour through Willard Hall where she could receive a friendly greeting and inspiring perspectives from Kim.
During her time at K-State, Jack Taylor became another influential role model for Suzie. Known for his bow ties, smile and hugs, Jack served as an advisor for the Silver Key Sophomore Honorary and worked in the Office of Financial Aid. Although neither Jack nor Kim were professors, Suzie learned so much through their example and intentional investment.
In response to the prevalent racial inequality in the United States and recognizing the need for diversity among teachers, Suzie and her husband, Kurtis, decided to start a scholarship for students in the College of Education. The positive influence of these K-State faculty and staff members has inspired Suzie to invest in future teachers, so they can create an impact in classrooms of their own. When choosing a name for the scholarship, Kim and Jack’s names immediately came to mind, which lead to the creation of the Lucky Taylor Scholarship.
“Even though it [racial injustice] has been here since before our country was founded, so many of us in the majority culture have ignored it, downplayed it, or falsely hoped it had ‘gone away.’ If we want it to be something different, then we need to take tangible steps to create that new reality,” said Suzie. “It is too much for one person to do on their own, but at the same time, everyone has something we can do. One of the opportunities my husband and I recognized was the need for more diversity in our classrooms. That is something all children can benefit from.”
Because scholarships were such an essential part of making Kurtis and Suzie’s education possible, they hope the Lucky Taylor Vanier Family Scholarship can reduce the burden of student loans and help students stay in school. More than that, they hope the scholarship can support the recipient on a personal level.
“I want them [the student recipients] to know they are supported. They are valued. And that we can’t wait to have them stepping into a classroom and doing one of the hardest, most amazing jobs in the world — being a teacher and touching the lives of students,” said Suzie. “I think philanthropy is a way to invest in what you believe in. For some folks, being a K-State fan means attending sporting events. For me, being a K-State fan means finding ways to help encourage and ensure others have the opportunity to experience K-State.”
After completing the general K-State Scholarship Network application, Ty’Shia Adams was matched with the Lucky Taylor Scholarship as a possible scholarship opportunity. Ty’Shia is now in her semester of student teaching, where she is working toward her goal of becoming an art teacher. Since Ty’Shia was a child, art has been a strong influence in her life. Although she did not always know what career she wanted to pursue, it was her passion for art and the intentionality of her teachers that inspired her to become an art teacher.
“It wasn’t until I realized that my dreams were being pushed mainly by my loving and supportive teachers,” said Ty’Shia. “I realized at that moment that I want to influence our youth to reach their dreams, and I feel like no one does that better than a supportive teacher.”
Since Ty’Shia is unable to work as much as usual during her student teaching semester, the Lucky Taylor Scholarship and Suzie’s encouragement have been a great support for her. “This scholarship has been a lifesaver. Ms. Schultz has been extremely supportive and active in conversing with me about my experiences, and I am so thankful for all of the resources she has given me to pursue this experience,” said Ty’Shia.
Ty’Shia is living out Kurtis and Suzie’s vision for the Lucky Taylor Scholarship: Supporting teachers so they can better support their students. Getting the chance to connect with Ty’Shia and hearing her story has reaffirmed their decision to fund the Lucky Taylor Scholarship.
“That is why contributing a scholarship to the College of Education is exponentially impactful. You not only get to make an impact on the student who receives the scholarship, but in some small way, I feel I get to be a part of making an impact on every student who gets a chance to enter their classroom in the future,” said Suzie.
Written by: Ariana Brancato