Marquette campus in the spring.

Penning the future for communications students

Two students talking

Sylvia Wallace, Jour ’77, first considered Marquette because she longed to study journalism under then-J School Dean and Former White House Press Secretary George Reedy. Her decision came somewhat last minute, meaning less financial support from family and limited access to large scholarships, so Sylvia applied for dozens of small community scholarships to fund her education, working full time during school to make ends meet.

“I wanted to take advantage of every possible opportunity to follow my dreams,” she recalls. “Tell me I can’t do something and watch me go. The financial challenges made getting there even sweeter.”

Now, through a $1 million estate pledge toward scholarship, Sylvia—along with her husband, Lon—hopes to alleviate that burden for future communication students.

“If I can make the financial struggle a bit easier for the next student who wants to take on the world through a bedrock Marquette education, then I’m giving back what the university gave me,” she says.

She and her husband have actively volunteered throughout their married lives and decided to pledge substantial gifts to each of their alma maters.

“I believed in ‘Be The Difference’ before it was a motto,” Sylvia jokes. “Our family has been so blessed, and I attribute the basis for it to my years at Marquette. We wanted to make an impact for others.”

Making that impact at a Jesuit school was also a draw for Sylvia, whose best friend went on to become a Jesuit priest.

“Marquette was a deeply meaningful place for me. Those four years taught me not only who I wanted to be, but how to get there. It was the beginning of the life I wanted and made everything in my life possible,” she says.

When Sylvia’s grandchildren were thinking about colleges, she and her husband advised them to consider a university that taught three things: how to focus, how to think critically about the world, and how to conduct themselves as young men or women. For her, those life lessons aligned at Marquette.

“When I graduated, I was ready to take it on!” she remembers. “I had the ability to do whatever I wanted with my life. It changed my world.”

To those considering similar gifts, Sylvia offers words of encouragement. “If you had a wonderful experience at Marquette and it set you on a life path, then why not give that same opportunity to someone else? Part of being the difference is reaching out to help the next generations,” she says. “It gives them the beginning of the rest of their lives. I will forever be grateful for my time at Marquette.”


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