Schlessman-Funded Scholarships Exceed 100…

Schlessman-Funded Scholarships Exceed 100

Susan Schlessman Duncan with students

Average cost of textbooks for a quarter: $700. Average cost of a laptop: $800. Impact of a scholarship: priceless. For many students an education at Iliff would not be possible without scholarship support. Iliff is fortunate to have generous patrons who support our students through a variety of scholarships.

Susan Schlessman Duncan is one such person whose generosity has helped inspire and create more than 100 transformative leaders – in the last five years alone. Through the Schlessman Family Fund, a wide variety of communities has been touched. Among those the Fund has supported, are graduates who serve as chaplains, non-profit workers, an assistant director of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), an employee of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a church relations director, and a grant writer for the American Indian College Fund The Schlessman Family Scholarship Fund also supports many current students who hope to be pastors, teachers, youth ministers, and social workers in marginalized communities (see sidebar or link to website).

Duncan’s family (Gerald and Florence Schlessman and brother, Lee Schlessman) have contributed to Iliff in supporting the building of a residence hall, education building, and scholarships since her father first served on the Iliff Board of Trustees. Susan’s term as an Iliff Trustee spanned 1981-2009 and included serving as vice-chair, as well as working on several committees. At one time, she stepped farbeyond her own comfort zone to travel to Chicago to make a personal plea for a much-needed grant on behalf of the school. Her determined efforts secured the grant in full.
“I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person, but I grew up in the church and I am a member of a United Church of Christ congregation. My friends have questioned why I have contributed so much time and effort to Iliff,” said Susan Duncan. “From the beginning of my involvement, I’ve seen the results of the work of Iliff graduates and the passion of the current ones, as well as the potential of Iliff as an institution. I’ve considered my efforts an investment in human potential – something my family has done since I was a child.”

Duncan’s family also has had impact on the wider , especially with the YMCA. Many of the facilities in use today bear the names of Schlessman family members and serve communities that help young people learn positive values, instill a commitment to service, and provide motivation to learn. Duncan has also supported a mission in Mexico – making numerous trips over many years to provide assistance to women and their families by teaching skills and providing loans for small businesses.

“The impact Susan Duncan and her family continue to have on Iliff and the work of our students, and alumni and alumnae, is simply astounding. What a legacy!” said Peggy Sandgren, vice president of institutional advancement. “Through her leadership, Duncan has helped build and maintain the mission and buildings of Iliff, providing support and space for students to pursue their world-changing passions. And, undoubtedly, the personal impact of providing student scholarships has made educational preparation possible for our students to have careers in ministry and social service that are not generally conducive to paying off large student debt.”

Thank you, Susan Duncan, from all of us in the Iliff community! You are an inspiration to us all.

“Messages of Gratitude to Susan Schlessman Duncan from Scholarship Recipients”

  • “I am a chaplain at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood…the scholarship gave me a boost in confidence. It helped me believe in my academic abilities and pastoral pursuits to be supported… It really meant the world to me. I was very grateful.” Jennifer Forker (MDIV ’11)
  • “I work with Solar Oven Partners as the assistant director. Solar Oven Partners’ mission is to empower people through self-help with solar cooking and water pasteurization. The work is done in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. SOP looks at one of the root causes of poverty, the lack of cheap and sustainable cooking fuel. The predominant cooking fuel in Haiti is charcoal which leads to deforestation in a nation where an estimated 50 million trees are destroyed annually and 3 million are replanted. I could not afford to do this type of work, support my family and go to school if it weren’t for the support of the Duncan Scholarship. This award has made a huge impact on my life and has opened doors that I could not have imagined in the past. Thank you so much for the assistance.” Martin Avery (Journey MDIV student).
  • “I am the director of United Methodist Church Relations a Centenary College of Louisiana. Thank you for your continuing generosity. You make ministry happen!” – Warren Clifton (Journey MDIV student)
  • “I hope to work in the non-profit sector, concentrating on religion and social change or equality for marginalized communities. I am considering pursuing a Ph.D. in Religion and Social Change…” Elizabeth Jaenicke (MASC student)
  • “(This) scholarship has helped me attend Iliff to pursue my degree. Attending Iliff has been an enriching experience on my spiritual journey. Thank you for your generosity!” Mary Jackson (MAPSC student)
  • “My husband works as a teacher. We are glad for any assistance that diminishes the debt we accumulate. We have two kids…and were hit by the massive teacher cuts in the metroplex. I work part time from home for the Mountain Desert District of the UUA. I am interested in retreat and renewal ministries, ecology and social justice as a spiritual practice.” Sarah Oglesby-Dunegan, (MDIV student)
  • “I hope to use my Buddhism to work in non-denominational chaplaincy – a late-found but joyous and true calling for me… Your generosity made my attendance possible.” William Jeavons (MAPSC student)
  • “I work as a grant writer and researcher for the American Indian College Fund…raising funds for the nation’s tribal colleges and universities. I also work on the Fund’s Embrey American Indian Women’s Leadership Projects, assisting with leadership retreats and serving as a mentor for the women. I hope to continue working at the American Indian College Fund to gain knowledge on various aspects of the nonprofit arena.” Natasha Drake (MASC student)
  • “The scholarship enabled me to better afford education. Thank you! I am currently with Broomfield Health and Human Services, and hope to continue working for non-profit, NGO, governmental or humanitarian organizations.” Mandy Ellis (MASC student)
  • “Susan, I am so grateful for your help through this scholarship. You are helping me become the best version of myself I can be by following my call to (United Methodist) youth ministry. I am allowed to do with my life what I love to do through gifts such as yours.” Katie Flansburg (MAPSC student)
  • “I am currently working on a PhD in Biblical Interpretation … hope to teach undergraduates the joys and perils of studying the Bible and make them more careful readers – and in a small way better citizens. Without the scholarships I received as a master’s student, I would not have been able to take the next step in my education. Money is always tight in humanities education, but the higher you go, the harder the struggle becomes to find the means to achieve your next goal. The funds came at a delicate point in my education when the money made the difference between following an authentic path and putting off a dream (perhaps forever). My life is more authentic and interesting than I could have dreamed! Thank you.” Elizabeth Rae Coody (MA ’09)
  • “With this degree, I plan to continue the process to be commissioned and ordained as an elder in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This scholarship has allowed me to purchase books and other equipment and materials that I need for my education; and it also helps to make it possible for me to care for my small, young family here in Denver while I am attending school full-time and doing my part-time internship this year. Thank you so much, Ms. Duncan! Your generosity is multiplied as it comes to us and those that we now serve or will serve once we leave Iliff.” Jennifer Veres-Schrecengost (MDIV student)
  • “Somehow ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem enough …Susan Schlessman Duncan has made a difference in my life and through me in the lives of hundreds of hard working federal employees. I can only imagine how many more lives will be touched and ministered to through this vital front lines ministry in the years ahead. Thank you Susan – and God bless you. I am honored by your gift and give thanks to God for your generosity, support, and investment in Iliff. I work as a volunteers liaison for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA. I wrote a program that has been adopted by the federal government that provides support to federal employees deployed on disaster assignment in the United States. Dozens of lives have already been touched and it is hoped that the pilot project will soon be field tested on a larger disaster with a view towards implementation nationwide. The Employee Support Pilot Project is the first of its kind in our federal agency in the nation and came directly out of my studies at Iliff.” Jonathan Wallace (MDIV student)
  • “I am very grateful… for the scholarship that has enabled my wife and I to make my studies financially viable and sustainable. Thanks thanks thanks! I plan to continue work in the non-profit field working as an advocate for the American Indian population, immigrants, and the marginalized.” Jeff Eliassen (MASC student)

The story from Iliff Magazine…

Susan Schlessman Duncan – Making World-Changing Impacts through Student Scholarships

Iliff is fortunate to have generous patrons who support our students through a variety of scholarships.

Susan Schlessman Duncan is one such person whose generosity has helped inspire and create more than 100 transformative leaders – in the last five years alone. Through the Schlessman Family Fund, a spectrum of communities have been touched. Among those the Fund has supported, are graduates who serve as chaplains, non-profit workers, an assistant director of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), an employee of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a church relations director, and a grant writer for the American Indian College Fund. The Schlessman Family Scholarship Fund also supports many current students who hope to be pastors, teachers, youth ministers, and social workers in marginalized communities (see http://www.iliff.edu/).

Duncan’s family (Gerald and Florence Schlessman and brother, Lee Schlessman) have contributed to Iliff, supporting the building of a residence hall, education building, and scholarships since her father first served on the Iliff Board of Trustees. Susan’s term as an Iliff Trustee spanned 1981-2009 and included serving as vice-chair, as well as working on several committees. At one time, she stepped far beyond her own comfort zone, traveling to Detroit to make a personal plea for a much-needed grant on behalf of the school. Her determined efforts secured the grant in full.

“I don’t consider myself a particularly religious person, but I grew up in the church and I am a member of a United Church of Christ congregation. My friends have questioned why I have contributed so much time and effort to Iliff,” Duncan said. “From the beginning of my involvement, I’ve seen the results of the work of Iliff graduates and the passion of the current ones, as well as the potential of Iliff as an institution. I’ve considered my efforts an investment in human potential – something my family has done since I was a child.”

Duncan’s family also has had impact on the wider community, especially with the YMCA. Many of the facilities in use today bear the names of Schlessman family members and serve communities that help young people learn positive values, instill a commitment to service, and provide motivation to learn. Duncan has also supported a mission near Manzanillo, Mexico, making numerous trips over almost 30 years to provide assistance to children and their families in an after school program. She and fellow Americans and Canadians have spent their vacations raising money and teaching skills such as crafts, sewing, and cooking in this Mexican state of Colima.

“The impact Susan Duncan and her family continue to have on Iliff and the work of our students, and alumni and alumnae, is simply astounding. What a legacy!” said Peggy Sandgren, vice president of institutional advancement. “Through her leadership, Duncan has helped build and maintain the mission and buildings of Iliff, providing support and space for students to pursue their world-changing passions. And, undoubtedly, the personal impact of providing student scholarships has made educational preparation possible for our students to have careers in ministry and social service that are not generally conducive to paying off large student debt.”

Notes of gratitude to Susan from scholarship recipients are listed above.