Doris Penrod says UC changed her life, now she wants others to have the same experience.
UC Alumna Donates Artwork to Provide Opportunities for Needy Students
Doris Penrod’s childhood was plagued with challenges few of us could ever imagine. Her mother passed away when she was nine, her brother contracted polio and was to unable walk, and at age 13, Doris and her sister Kathryn were placed in a children’s home. Higher education seemed nearly impossible, as the Penrod family was financially unable to send Doris or any of her 13 siblings to college.
It wasn’t until after Doris and Kathryn were sent to the children’s home that she even considered pursing a degree. The staff at the children’s home encouraged both girls to attend college, and when Doris graduated from high school, she enrolled in a business college in Toledo. Doris paid her way through school by sweeping floors and babysitting children. After a year of business school, Doris moved to Cincinnati and started working in order to care for Kathryn and make a living for herself.
Kathryn dreamed of attending nursing school - a wish Doris wanted desperately to grant. “My family was brilliant,” Doris says, “but they never could afford college educations. My father should have attended medical school to become a doctor but never had the opportunity.” Doris did not want the opportunity for Kathryn to attend college to pass her by, so she worked hard at her job to fund Kathryn’s education.
Doris also had a desire to continue her own education and began taking classes at the College of Music (now known as the College Conservatory of Music) and other classes at UC while maintaining a full-time job. After working several different jobs, Doris found herself working as a substitute teacher at various Cincinnati Public schools, and ultimately landed a long-term substitute teaching position at Chase Elementary in Northside. During this time, Doris kept working to complete her undergraduate education, and in 1971 - at the age of 58 - she graduated Cum Laude, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Education. Because of her Cum Laude status, Doris was then offered a fellowship to attend graduate school.
Little did Doris realize, the fellowship she received was an opportunity that would change her life forever. After earning her Master’s of Education in 1972, the school she had been working for offered her a full-time contract. Since retiring from teaching, Doris, now 96 years-old, says, “The past 25 years have been the happiest years of my entire life, because I have been able to do whatever I want. Without UC, the last 25 years would not have been as enjoyable.” Her Master’s degree also opened up many other opportunities, including traveling to Europe many times with other teachers.
Since receiving her undergraduate degree in 1971, Doris has loyally given back to the university each year. When she discovered two paintings she owned were worth $100,000 combined, she felt the right thing to do was donate the paintings to UC in appreciation of the support and encouragement she received there. Doris has designated the funds from the paintings to be used to create a scholarship for financially challenged students of the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services.
“I want someone else to have the same chances and enjoy life as I have. If it wasn’t for my education at UC and my fellowship in graduate school there is no way I would have the things I have today.”
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