An Exceptional Gift, an Inspiring Woman, and a Legacy of Love
Last spring, during the Emporia State Department of Nursing Senior Recognition ceremony, a moment was taken from the festivities to recognize an exceptional gift. It was a gift signifying a brother's love for his sister and his unending respect for her lifetime of dedication to the profession of nursing. Emporia State honored Rhonda Rath Brenzikofer, and the nursing scholarship created in her honor by her brother, Evan C. Rath, II.
Before Evan passed away in 2016, he had set a legacy in motion. Through his revocable living trust, he created an endowed scholarship that would serve as a reminder of what and who he valued most. Named for his sister, the Rhonda Rath Brenzikofer Scholarship will serve as a testament to his love and respect for Rhonda, and for her life generously spent caring for others as a nurse.
The scholarship was created with a $400,000 estate gift. It is for nursing students, with first preference for students who come from Marion County. Evan wanted to do something for the students from his home county, and he wanted to provide encouragement and support to those students who were entering the revered profession of nursing. But, he also wanted to leave his sister with a reminder of how much he loved her and how her life's work as a nurse caring for others inspired him.
The Emporia State University Foundation is honored to be a part of this legacy and to have the opportunity to share this story of compassion, generosity and love with our nursing graduates now and in the future.
The Don & Ruth Bright Scholarship: A Legacy of Service to Students
Many aspire to a life led with purpose and meaning, a life guided by faith and loving-kindness, but some among us exemplify it. They demonstrate what it means to truly care about others, to offer friendship, to give selflessly so that others have what they need. Don Bright, and his late wife, Ruth, provide a priceless example of how to live in service to others.
In 2017, Don established a legacy gift called the Don & Ruth Bright Scholarship. It is a Presidential Scholarship available to students in any field of study and gives first preference to members of the Church of Christ. For Don, this gift is nothing new, for helping students has been a centerpiece of Ruth and Don’s life.
Ruth Bright and her friend Anita Wright started the spaghetti dinner at the Christian Student Center as a way to reach out to Emporia State students, and in particular to aid international students. Ruth was sensitive to the fact that many of the international students at Emporia State did not know many people in Emporia, and often were in need of a little extra support. Ruth and Anita, and many other volunteers from the Church of Christ, provided a free meal and fellowship. What started out with just a handful of students attending soon grew, and now the Christian Student Center can serve over 300 students in a day.
The Don & Ruth Bright Scholarship is a testament to the fellowship this couple has fostered through the Christian Student Center. It is a tribute to the faith that led their life together as members of the Church of Christ. It is a symbol of their enduring love, as it honors Ruth’s memory and her life spent engaging with and assisting students at Emporia State.
“The University is extremely grateful to Don for this legacy gift, which will continue to benefit a multitude of Emporia State students well into the future,” said ESU President Allison Garrett. The entire Emporia State community is fortunate to have the Brights’ generosity and to bear witness to their humble selflessness and unflagging faith in helping others. We are forever grateful for their example.”