KU School of Medicine–Wichita
1010 N. Kansas
Wichita, KS, 67214
March 04, 2019
By Joe Stumpe
Most parents look forward to the day when they can stop helping pay for their children's college education.
Connie Marsh, M.D., took a different view as her three children completed their college years.
"As families, you kind of get in the habit of writing checks for your kids' education," said Marsh, a clinical associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at KU School of Medicine-Wichita. "I thought, ‘Well, I'm used to writing that check, so I thought what I'm going to do is establish endowed scholarships at the three institutions where my children went to school. That's how it started.'"
KU is one of the schools. Marsh's son, Benjamin, earned his bachelor's and law degrees in Lawrence. The other two institutions are Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts college near Chicago from which her oldest daughter, Rachel, graduated, and Washington University in St. Louis, where her younger daughter, Sarah, earned a degree.
The three scholarships - each of which carries one of her children's names - are targeted at specific kinds of students. Marsh, no stranger to academia, said she understands most colleges and universities would prefer that donations go to their general scholarship fund. "But that's not very exciting," she said. "I let each child decide what they wanted for a student to be a recipient of a scholarship."
In Benjamin's case, Marsh said, "He grew up in a small town. He wanted a student from a small school - 3A or less. He felt very strongly. He had a lot of contact with kids from small schools." In addition to students from small schools, students from a larger school can qualify for the scholarship if the student population is at least half minorities.
Marsh earned a sociology degree from Ottawa University and a master's degree from KU in the same field before graduating from KU School of Medicine in Kansas City and then doing her residency in internal medicine at Kansas City General Hospital/Truman Medical Center in Kansas City.
She then practiced for seven years in Halstead as an internal medicine specialist before shifting her focus to psychiatry, completing her psychiatry training at KU School of Medicine-Wichita and practicing there since the late 1980s.
"I'm kind of KU oriented," said Marsh, whose specialties are geriatric psychiatry and dementia.
That allegiance didn't stop her from establishing scholarships at Wheaton and "Wash U.," as the St. Louis school is known. Sarah's namesake scholarship, set up in 1999, is awarded to a female minority student, while Rachel's, started two years later, is given to a student from south or southeast Asia or Africa for a master's program in social work. The KU scholarship was begun in 2004.
Like many other people who establish endowed scholarships, Marsh contributed to them for several years before they grew to the point where funds could be distributed from them. They are not full-ride scholarships, but are instead designed to provide deserving students with crucial tuition support when they need it most.
Neither Marsh nor her children miss the money.
Benjamin, who provides tech support for a major health care software company, called the scholarships "an interesting and great idea. I have sufficient money and am very happy to have Mom help other people."
Sarah and Rachel also approve, although Rachel admits she's "still a little uncomfortable that it is in my name." Rachel is vice president of advocacy for St. Francis Ministries, a nonprofit child and family service organization, while Sarah is associate pastor of mission and community outreach for First United Methodist Church in Manhattan, Kansas.
Marsh has heard from at least 17 of the KU scholarship recipients alone, students majoring in everything from biology and journalism to accounting, finance and Spanish.
"Yes, they're so nice," she said. "They send letters of appreciation pretty regularly."
Above, left: Connie Marsh, M.D., at top, is pictured with her children, clockwise: Sarah, Benjamin and Rachel.KU School of Medicine-Wichita