While countless brilliant men and women do not have college degrees, their accomplishments often speak for themselves. Still, having access to higher education can be an integral stepping stone on the road to success.
It’s a double whammy when underserved students who have traditionally faced financial barriers to obtaining degrees find themselves mired in debt when they graduate.
Few know the challenges of this particular obstacle course better than Calvin Tyler, who gave up his own college dreams six decades ago when tuition became too high.
In 1961, Tyler enrolled as a business administration student at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore. When his funds ran out in 1963, a year before graduation, he took a job as a UPS driver.
Tyler’s lack of a college degree might have been considered a setback by some, but it didn’t deter this driver from a real drive to steadily rise through the ranks. When he retired in 1998, Tyler was senior vice president of US operations and served on the board of directors of UPS.
Tyler’s hard work and determination paid off, but he knew that in the business world, his story was the exception rather than the rule. So, in 2002, he and his wife established the Calvin and Tina Tyler Endowed Scholarship Fund at the historically black college he once attended.
By awarding full-tuition scholarships to select Baltimore students in need, they hoped to elevate them to a place where they could gain a first foothold on the corporate ladder. How far they went would be up to them.
In 2016, the Tylers raised the bar, endowing the fund with $ 5 million. Earlier this year, they broke their own record, pledging $ 20 million in scholarship donations.
Tyler says he and his wife felt compelled by the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on students already struggling to do what they can to help close the financial gap.
“That is why we are increasing our commitment,” he explained. “We want more full-tuition scholarships to be offered to young people so they can graduate from college and enter the next stage of their life debt-free.”
Morgan State President David Wilson referred to the couple’s continued and magnanimous support in a statement that read in part: “Through your historic donations, the doors to higher education are sure to remain open for generations of aspiring students. leaders whose financial deficits may have prevented them from realizing their academic dreams …
“The generosity of the Tylers over the years, culminating in this transformative commitment, is a remarkable example of altruism with great purpose.”
Calvin Tyler may not have a college degree to hang on the wall, but he has earned an advanced degree by paying for it many times over, and that’s a course of study that we can all learn from.
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