By Gabrielle Redcay ’18

EVERY YEAR, ELITE UNIVERSITIES POUR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS INTO SPARKLING RESIDENCE HALLS, EXTENSIVE EATING OPTIONS AND INNOVATIVE PROJECTS TO CHALLENGE THOSE OF RIVAL SCHOOLS. WHILE MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY OFFERS THESE AMENITIES, ITS ADMINISTRATORS BELIEVE A POSITIVE COLLEGIATE EXPERIENCE REQUIRES MORE THAN STRUCTURAL CONVENIENCES.

Imagine the Possible, the three-year $32 million campaign focused solely on students, emphasizes what Millersville University has proven time and time again: students always come first.

“Imagine the Possible is the first campaign in the University’s history entirely focused on students,” said Dr. John Anderson, who retired as president of Millersville University on June 30. “It has been an honor to work with passionate faculty and staff of Millersville to get this significant campaign off and running. Imagine the Possible represents our dedication to students and our goal to provide them the tools needed to become successful employees, community leaders and citizens.”

Even though Millersville University is proud to offer affordable, high-quality programs, the need for financial assistance is essential to attracting and nurturing talented students during their collegiate years. Meanwhile, the state has decreased its contributions to state universities, including MU, by 65 percent over the past 35 years.

“Now more than ever, the support for our students is essential,” explains Alice McMurry, interim vice president of advancement. “Imagine the Possible reinforces our commitment to our students to ensure they can participate in undergraduate research, hands-on learning, internships and civic engagement.”

The Imagine the Possible campaign is designed to eliminate barriers for qualified and capable students seeking higher education. In that pursuit, all the funds raised through this intentional fundraising effort will support three priorities: Scholarships, Student Learning Experiences and Marauder Athletics.

From the overall $32 million goal of this campaign, $10 million will increase the number of scholarships available to academically talented and financially limited students. A $16 million portion of the funds will support student learning experiences such as internships, undergraduate research, global education and living-learning communities. The final $6 million will reinforce the current, privately-funded athletics scholarships to attract student-athletes and allow Marauder Athletics to continue as a source of pride for the University and the community.

“As I begin my new role of leadership at Millersville University, I wholeheartedly support this campaign and am honored to advocate for the best interests of our students in the classroom, on the field and beyond,” said Dr. Daniel Wubah, president of Millersville University. “The groundwork laid for this campaign has positioned us well to achieve our goal of $32 million for scholarships, student learning experiences and Marauder athletics by 2020.”

The historic campaign officially began in a quiet phase on July 1, 2017, and subsequently went public through a series of events and activities in April 2018 including Made in Millersville, a showcase of student scholarship and creativity; Dining with Champions, a scholarship dinner and auction hosted by MU Athletics; and One Day Give, a 24-hour giving challenge, which benefits the University community.

As of July 1, 2018, the generosity of the Millersville University community has raised $14.6 million, or 46 percent of the goal.

A significant portion of that goal was made possible by a generous gift by donor Patrick J. Tell, a local entrepreneur and philanthropist. He established a $2 million endowment that will support music students at the University. The money will be used to provide scholarships for deserving students pursuing careers in music; purchase new equipment and instruments; bring in outstanding performers and experts in different fields of music to work with students at Millersville; and provide needed resources for music programs that MU is involved with in the community, such as Music for Everyone.

“I was motivated to give to Millersville University because it is so ingrained in the Lancaster County arts community through both its Ware Center and Winter Center,” said Tell. “Additionally, what the students are achieving in the music and the performing arts program is spectacular.”

In honor of this momentous gift, which is the largest from a single individual in the University’s history, the music department will be renamed the Tell School of Music.

“Patrick Tell’s generous gift will provide resources to recruit and support music students and guide them on a successful path to productive careers in music business technology, music education and music performance,” said Dr. Vilas Prabhu, provost and vice president of academic affairs. “Donors have the ability to positively shape the educational journeys of our students and give them the best possible opportunity for success both in college and in the communities they serve after graduation.”

“This gift recognizes the important contributions that our students and alums are making in their communities,” said Dr. Micheal Houlahan, professor and chair of the Department of Music. “Our music business technology graduates are working in national companies such as Clair Brothers and Sony Corporation. Our performance majors are establishing their own ensembles and bands and are touring nationally and internationally. And, our teaching graduates are working in K-12 music programs throughout the U.S.”

Keep reading to meet a few of our inspiring students whose collegiate journeys may have not been possible without the financial assistance of Millersville University’s generous donors.

 

In Her Element

Kyra Brakefield’s path has been a winding one. Today, she is a junior chemistry major focused on research and a talented member of the Millersville University field hockey team. However, she did not start with either of those end points in mind.

Her first love was softball, and while she played field hockey, she did not love it. That was until she returned to the hockey field in the fall of her junior year at Hempfield High School.

She realized: “I think I really want to do this. I think I could really grow in this game more than the other.”

Conversations with Coach Shelly Behrens convinced Brakefield to join the championship-winning Marauders and enroll at MU, a school she had previously dismissed for being too close to home.

“I think people overlook Millersville a lot, and I definitely did at first,” she admitted. “Once I got here, it was 10 times better than I expected. Everyone is just so close in the science building and in the chemistry field itself.”

In another change of course, Brakefield entered MU intending to emerge a chemistry teacher, but she shifted toward research after starting classes and realizing the extensive potential of the field. She is currently studying inorganic and organometallic materials.

“In chemistry, if you mess up it’s all right and you just try again,” she said. “It kind of reminds me of field hockey because you just keep going. You make your own moves, and then if it doesn’t work, just try again.”

 

A Confident Musician and Marauder

Tyler Smith never doubted his career path. The music education major chose his future occupation as a middle schooler, and he never wavered in that decision.

“I have played piano since first grade and have always been into music,” explained Smith, who was introduced to his primary instrument by his father. He will begin his senior year at Millersville University in the fall. He plans to become a music teacher after graduation.

After visiting MU for the first time and meeting members of the music department, he was sold. He has loved his time at the University, but it hasn’t been without hardship. During his first year and a half, Smith struggled with tendinitis as a result of his piano playing style.

“It was definitely hard that something that I loved was giving me pain,” he admitted. “But I was pretty set on working through it.”

Smith traveled to Philadelphia once a week for eight months to relearn how to play the piano. His injury only deepened his passion for music and better prepared him for one of the highlights of his college career—the McIlwaine Master Class.

This biannual event brings world-renowned guest artists to MU to observe and critique student musicians. Smith was one of three students to play in front of a concert pianist and a packed audience in fall 2017.

“It was an intimidating experience, but it was enjoyable and exciting to hear a different perspective,” he remembered.

 

Discovering Her Culture Through the Classroom

At Millersville University, Nikole Rottkamp developed a true passion for her Latin culture.

“My main relationship with my culture before college was speaking Spanish with my grandparents,” said Rottkamp, who graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Spanish in May.

On her first campus visit, she learned about the Society on Latino Affairs (SOLA), and it became an essential part of her college experience. She became a member as a freshman, and served on the executive board as the recording secretary till graduation.

One highlight of her time at MU was studying abroad in Chile for five months. During her South American trip, which included stops in Uruguay, Argentina and Peru, Rottkamp saw her knowledge of Spanish language, literature and culture come to life. She also developed a passion for global citizenship.

“I made connections with people from all over the United States and the world, which helped me gain a new perspective about becoming a global citizen,” she recounted. “Now I can use everything from that experience in the classroom to inspire students to learn the language and to study abroad themselves.”

Rottkamp was able to focus on learning in and out of the classroom because of the many scholarships she received, including the African-American/ Latino Scholarship, Dr. Rosario Caminero Memorial Scholarshipand Michael G. Kovach Foreign Languages Scholarship.

 

Using the Court as a Platform

Basketball has been a major part of Marcus Adkison’s life for just about as long as he can remember. From age 3, he tagged along to his older brother’s practices. The court quickly became his home.

“There’s just something about the sport. I just love basketball,” said the communications major. “Playing in college was always a dream of mine.”

Adkison’s dream became a reality when he started his collegiate basketball career at Shepherd University in West Virginia. However, his first year did not go as planned, and he was left at a loss for what to do next.

Coach Casey Stitzel had seen him play in high school and college. The combination shooting guard had received multiple offers from other schools, but Stitzel’s directness and authenticity won him over.

“Millersville has definitely taught me a lot about life,” Adkison said. “Some people say any place can teach you that, but all I know is that I learned a lot from my time here at Millersville.”

He will begin his senior year in the fall, and he loves basketball more than ever, but he sees the sport as a means to earn his first priority: a college education.

While he’s unsure what job he will pursue after graduation, he knows that he will use basketball as a platform to mentor kids. He credits his own mentors, including coach Derrick Harvey at St. Andrew’s Episcopal High School, with giving him the tools to be the athlete and man he is today.

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