Giving Back and Giving Forward Percentage of Estate
In the 1960s, I was studying Russian in high school and planned to continue in college. My favorite high school teacher had graduated from Lawrence and steered me toward considering his alma mater. I had also heard that Lawrence had a good Russian department and so, when I visited the Lawrence campus the spring of my junior year (1968), I dropped in on a class taught by George Smalley, the head of the Russian Department. There were about six students in the class, practicing George's famous "dialogues," conversations and vocabulary lists that were printed in blue from a ditto machine (spirit duplicator). The classroom in Main Hall where Russian students practiced "dialogues" was lined from floor to ceiling with open shelves filled with these ditto sheets.
George was approachable, funny, intellectual and down-to-earth at the same time. His students clearly loved being there. That meeting was enough to seal the deal. I entered Lawrence in the fall of 1969.
At that time, Lawrence had several off-campus programs. As a Russian major, I planned to go on the bi-annual Slavic trip the summer after my sophomore year. But first, I decided to go to the LU German campus in Eningen, leaving in June after my freshman year!! Living in southern Germany provided a perfect springboard to see the rest of Europe on long weekends and between semesters. My love for travel and other cultures was firmly established.
The Slavic Trip, a 13-week camping trip through Eastern Europe and Russia, was a "must do" for Russian majors, and many other Lawrentians took the course prerequisites so they could go as well. We spent the year prior to the trip studying Russian language, music, history, and literature so that we could appreciate all the trip had to offer. The trip was incredible. We traveled in Volkswagen mini buses: about 35 students, a couple professors, and a couple Russian Intourist guides. We camped, shopped for food and cooked our food in the campgrounds, attended opera and ballet, toured museums and saw some of the best art in the world, visited the death camp at Auschwitz, dealt with agonizingly-long border crossings (during the tension of the Cold War), and absorbed Slavic culture, language, and history.
I believe that what I got from Lawrence - the travel, course content, relationships with the professors and students, the ideas I was exposed to, and the experiences I had - have made me a better person who is more able to understand and contribute to our world.
When I think about making charitable contributions, I think about "giving back" and "giving forward." Giving to Lawrence is a way to acknowledge that it has made a difference in my life. But even more importantly, giving to Lawrence means that future generations will be able to benefit from the experiences and education that Lawrence has to offer. By giving to Lawrence, I can "give back" and "give forward" at the same time.
I have supported Lawrence with annual contributions every year since I graduated. When my husband and I drew up our wills, we decided to give to Lawrence a percentage of our estates.
Occasionally a Lawrence student calls, updating us with news of the annual campaign. Every time I talk to one of these bright, engaged, young students, I am convinced that giving to Lawrence is the best way I can leave a legacy. My hope is that Lawrence can continue its mission well into the future to enrich the minds and lives of many young people.
Lisalyn Jane Dresser, 2022
Clare Scherf Sweetman Scholarship
"The thing I admire most about Lawrence is the diverse community. You are accepted and treated fairly no matter where you are from. Lawrence does not only teach you what you need to know it also helps you to be independent and prepare you to be successful for the future. I have always wanted to be in this prestigious and diverse university. I will forever be grateful to the Clare Scherf Sweetman Scholarship for helping me reach my dream."