Mel’s Corner: Three Reasons to Invest in College Students
“What I always say is if you give them a hand up, they’ll lift us up.”
For nearly 40 years, Mel Smith worked at UPS, working his way up the corporate ladder to becoming a division leader. He already had a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy where he had done several tours in Vietnam. As a result of his rich career, he has devoted many of his retired years to paying it forward. He is an enthusiastic advocate for making sure young people get an education and have the tools to find a job to pursue their dreams. When his co-workers at UPS called him up to tell him about a new foundation they wanted to create to help Black students in colleges, he didn’t hesitate for a second.
Now as Board Chairman for the MARCH Foundation, he has seen the results of the organization’s work, providing scholarships to college students. Here are reasons why he believes everyone should to support these students:
- Student debt is out of control. The cost of borrowing money now is just so expensive. We know many of these students are taking out huge amounts of loans because they don’t have access to money, particularly those who are average students. Student debt has reached $1.7 trillion and that’s a heavy burden for any student and their family. That’s why anyone who is able should find a way to support these students directly or organizations that offer them scholarships. Even with this federal debt relief, these students are struggling.
- Generate a return on your investment. Over the years, I have seen for myself that when you support these students, they are very grateful. When they graduate from college, they are more likely to give back because they realize how important it was for someone to help them. I like to say if you give them a hand up, they’ll lift us up.
- Education is power. There are so many First Generation students whose parents are working hard, but they just can’t afford to pay for college for their children. You know, these colleges aren’t cheap. When several of us got together, we decided we wanted to do something to help our youth because we don’t see a lot of them out there having a chance to get an education. I’m reminded of Nelson Mandela’s quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” That’s what we all believe, and why others – regardless of their backgrounds or income – should support our youth.