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Margaret Kirschner: A Lifelong Learner

Margaret KirschnerMargaret Kirschner graduated with the class of 1943 from Gurdon High School in Gurdon, Arkansas, in three years, attending summer school at the Henderson State Teachers College for a required semester of Literature and History.

Margaret’s graduation from Draughons Business College in Little Rock, Arkansas. This led to an exciting and successful career in Washington, D.C., as secretary to the Chief of the Mineral Division, Department of the Interior.

Margaret loves learning. She has pursued higher education with classes in Spanish, piano, computer science, bridge, ballroom dancing. She also has credits in “Speed Reading” and “Golf” from Lincoln Land Community College.

Margaret now shares that love of learning with a scholarship recipient. Her endowed scholarship qualifies for an Access Illinois match, which means the scholarship her endowed fund creates will be doubled for the next ten years.

Some Questions for Mrs. Kirschner

We recently asked Margaret Kirschner the following questions about her philanthropy, hopes for her recipients, advice, and more.

What inspired you to give a scholarship at UIS?

As a child, I witnessed my parents giving of their time and meager income. When Henry and I were married in 1947, we carried on this tradition. We were Sunday School teachers, Youth Counselors, and community volunteers.

In more recent years, I have been a three-year mentor to a medical student at SIU School of Medicine. I hope to carry on the tradition of providing scholarships to central Illinois colleges and universities as well as sponsoring intern programs at church.

In what way would you hope your scholarship recipients contribute to society?

I hope my scholarship recipients will remain citizens of integrity. “Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there” (John Wooden, UCLA basketball coach). I hope they will be successful in their fields of endeavors and be motivated to provide scholarships for the next generation.

What would you most like your recipients to know about your husband?

I would like EVERYONE to know EVERYTHING about Henry Kirschner, including the fact that he earned his law degree attending night school while working full time in a bank.

(You can read more about Henry Kirschner in this story about the Kirschners reprinted from the University of Illinois Foundation’s Chancellor’s Circle publication of 2008. Henry passed away in 2009; he is greatly missed.)

What advice would you give to students (any age, any context)?

  1. Partner with a “higher power”—for me it is my Christian faith.
  2. Set a goal—review and change if you desire.
  3. Believe in the power of positive thinking.
  4. Choose role models.
  5. Surround yourself with people of high moral character.
  6. Read, read, read—and explore and research.
  7. Take time for recreation, fun, and games—have a circle of friends and a hobby.

If a student were to ask you, what would you include in your definition of success?

To be a respected person who has a comfortable lifestyle and the means to share with others.

What do you think is the most important change in America during your life?

The most important change in America during my lifetime was the development of artificial satellites such as communication satellites, navigation satellites, weather satellites, space stations, etc.

What would you tell someone thinking about creating a scholarship at UIS?

Become a scholarship donor so the University will be well positioned for continuing success in recruiting and graduating high caliber students.

What are some ways that you have appreciated being honored in the past for your giving?

I appreciate the opportunity to meet and encourage the scholarship recipients. Having a one-on-one lunch with a faculty member to hear about upcoming programs is especially appreciated.

You can join Margaret by creating your own scholarship

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