Kathryn Schultz '89
Helping her elderly mother prepare end-of-life financial documents made Kathryn Schultz '89, of Fairfax, Virginia, stop to think about her own situation.
"As my mother was updating her will and qualifying for Medicaid, and doing all the different paperwork for lawyers, I tried to become educated," she says. "It became clear that maybe I should be doing some of these things for myself."
She says she wants to be able to continue to support the things and organizations that she does during her life, even when she is gone.
"As a single person, I focused on what things mean the most to me and have shaped me the most: my family, my church and my school," she says. "Through the lawyers, I became aware of the benefits of a trust."
Schultz made Ripon College the beneficiary of a revocable trust. "My things are owned by the trust, and I'm the trustee during my lifetime," Schultz says. "Everything will go to the trust. You avoid probate, define your assets and indicate more effectively who you want to inherit your stuff. It's a clear way to make your wishes known. It avoids tons of paperwork for your heirs. I don't want to make my brother or my nephew deal with all of that when I die."
Schultz is a native of Schofield, Wisconsin. She now works for the U.S. Department of State. She is a senior adviser and team chief, leading efforts related to South Asian nuclear weapons issues. She says she would not be where she is professionally, personally and financially, were it not for her Ripon College education and the experiences she had here.
"It comes down to thinking about what had a huge impact on me and my life, and what would have a huge, positive impact on others," she says. "It's important to support Ripon College. I recognize people before me helped make the college something I could afford. I received a lot of grants and scholarships. It's only appropriate to give some of my financial resources back."
When she was looking at schools to attend, she was attracted to the idea of a small, liberal arts college in the Associated Colleges of the Midwest. Ripon stood out because of its acceptance rate into law school - "I wanted to be president of the United States!" - and the fact she could excel at other interests, too, such as music.
Her second-choice school "felt grey, and Ripon felt yellow - and it had nothing to do with the weather," she says. "It just had that vibe to it. It felt friendly, inclusive. I liked the fact that Greek life was integrated in dormitories. I liked the unified student body."
She decided late in her freshman year that she liked government better than politics. After graduating from Ripon, she received the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship and went to Washington, D.C., to study and work in nongovernmental organizations focused on nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, and security. She then joined the government.
"I like problem-solving a lot," she says. "A liberal arts education prepares you well for real life and all the problems you face. It prepares you to think holistically and in a multi-disciplinary fashion, and to write well. Today, I write about a paper a day, sometimes more, commenting on other people's papers multiple times a day. That's been important. Understanding how you convey things matters, because things can be misconstrued."
"A liberal arts education gives you that kind of approach to life, needing to know a lot of different things, enough to know when you need to get an expert in the field to help you. There's never a dull moment."
She says that if you want to have a lasting impact, you should care about things both when you're here and when you're gone.
"The support that others gave the College in the past helped make the Ripon experience possible for us. We need to keep handing it down so the generations of the future have those same opportunities and we leave it the Ripon we know and love. If you already support the College in your lifetime, don't let your support die off when you die off!"