The Travis and Marina Freeman Family Endowed Scholarship for First-Generation College Students

In high school, it wasn’t a given that I would attend college. My parents and grandparents hadn’t earned bachelor’s degrees, nor did my aunts or uncles. Many of my friends entered the workforce or started businesses, just as my family had done. However, after encouragement from my father, I decided to give it a try and attended Missouri State University. The experience was lifechanging.

After learning important leadership skills from organizations on campus, gaining experience through various internships and finally earning my degree in finance, I became a financial planner. The experiences through college greatly prepared me for the first chapter in my career.

I was fortunate to build a successful practice by the age of 30 and found myself helping people with significantly more wealth than I ever saw in childhood. I was helping families pay for private high school – something that was never in the cards for me and my brother. I was helping parents build college savings plans for their children – something my parents didn’t know about because they didn’t have financial planners. I was helping grandparents use tax-efficient strategies for transferring wealth to their children and grandchildren – strategies people are unlikely to learn without having wealth in the first place.

I was immersed into social circles of the affluent that felt a bit like moving from smalltown, USA to New York City. It was through this experience that I felt the need to help others that may not be as fortunate as I am.

Education is empowering. Education offers a chance for a young person to chart a path of their own that may be better than that of their parents or the situation they were born into. This is why my wife and I started the Travis and Marina Freeman Family Endowed Scholarship, targeted for first-generation college students at MSU.

If you give someone a fish, they’ll eat for a day. If you teach them to fish, they’ll eat for a lifetime. We hope to continue growing our scholarship to support even more first-generation students. It’s there to help children from families like ours so they too might have the opportunity to become successful and start their own scholarships one day.

As W. B. Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

As a journalist writing the following story about our gift, Juliana had known others who started scholarships and made gifts to area universities. However, she said our ages of 37 and 38 were a pleasant surprise. Here I was answering questions about something I never thought would happen in my lifetime, including the fact that someone was writing an article about it. The idea of telling others about our gift made me feel uneasy, but this article was meant to inspire others to consider following suit.

Read more about Travis’ story in ‘Alumnus Carves a Path for Fellow First-Generation Students’ (PDF)

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