Honoring mentors, encouraging diversity

Suzie Schultz gives to help educators make an impact

Making an intentional detour through Willard Hall, Suzie Schultz knew she would be greeted by a smile and a story from K-State custodian, Kim Lucky, who quickly became one of her role models. Between sharing insights from the speakers at McCain and his curiosity in hearing other people’s experiences, Kim inspired Suzie by his commitment to learning.

Suzie’s inspiration from the K-State family did not end with Kim. During her time as president of the Silver Key Sophomore Honorary, Suzie connected with Jack Taylor, advisor for the honorary, recognized by his bow ties and friendly greetings. Jack intentionally invested in his students and ensured they had what they needed to make an impact on the world.

Whether it was walking to class and seeing a familiar face, the open-door policy of teachers and advisers or the upperclassman who were ready to offer counsel or tutoring, Suzie’s time at K-State was surrounded by the example of those who showed her what it meant to be life-long learner.

“A lot of what I learned at K-State is about the continuous process of learning,” said Schultz. “Not only what I am learning, but how I go about learning alongside others and from others. That is a key aspect of the community and family at K-State. Advisers, professors and other students invested in helping me learn. That is something I try to give back in mentoring and coaching others I work with today.”

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 scholarship exists to remove barriers for students of color pursuing a degree in education, with the hopes that they can create an impact for each student that walks into their future classroom. 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-Vanier Family Scholarship.

“The racial injustice in our country is pervasive. If we want something different, then we need to take tangible steps to create that new reality.  It is too much for one person to do on their own, but at the same time, everyone has something we can do,” said Suzie. “It hit me — when breaking into the cycle of racial disparities, education is one of those key opportunities. There is a powerful impact in having diverse educators, to be able to see people of color in leadership positions and to be influenced at a young age.”

In the spring of 2021, the first Lucky Taylor-Vanier Family Scholarship was awarded to a student named Ty’Shia Adams. Ty’Shia is living out the Schultzs’ vision for the Lucky Taylor Scholarship through her passion for students and perseverance in learning. “I want to influence our youth to reach their dreams, and I feel like no one does that better than a supportive teacher,” said Ty’Shia. “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.”

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Matt LaGree

Matt LaGree Director of Development - Education