Anonymous donor reveals himself to students who want to be teachers

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Photo of From left: Veach, Acosta, Oropeza, Pickard, Taylor, Giramia and Tomlinson.

From left: Veach, Acosta, Oropeza, Pickard, Taylor, Giramia and Tomlinson

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Six recent graduates of Kalamazoo high schools have just had an opportunity to meet those behind a new Western Michigan University scholarship they are the first to receive.

The Western Michigan University-Kalamazoo Public Schools Future Educators Program will help the students become educators and enhance the diversity of the Kalamazoo Public Schools' teaching staff. At an Oct. 6 luncheon for the first six scholarship recipients, the previously anonymous benefactor for five of the scholarships revealed his identity and met and congratulated the students benefiting from the program.

Dr. William F. Pickard, of Bloomfield Hills, a WMU alumnus and recently appointed University trustee, initiated a $250,000 grant to the program announced in April. That grant funds five $5,000 scholarships annually for five years for Kalamazoo Promise-eligible students who plan to become teachers. The grant was provided by the Pickard Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan

A sixth program scholarship was funded by the Advia Foundation. Janet Veach from Advia greeted students at the meeting as well. The six students awarded named scholarships through the program this year are all graduates of KPS high schools. They are:

Pickard Scholars

  • Amos Acosta, who is majoring in elementary education.
  • Sarah Giramia, who is majoring in secondary education, English and history.
  • Alinah Oropeza, who is majoring in secondary education.
  • Matthew Redriguez, who is majoring in elementary education.
  • Victor Taylor, who is majoring in elementary education.

Advia Scholar

  • Lynn Tomlinson, who is majoring in career and technical education training.

Future Educators program

The long-term goal of the Future Educators program is to increase the number of underrepresented minority teachers in Kalamazoo schools. As undergraduates, selected future educators in the program will have regular involvement in KPS schools as volunteers and teaching interns. They also will have KPS teacher mentors, and individual and group tutoring sessions with WMU faculty and staff. The Future Educator scholarship funds will support students in residential teacher education living-learning communities and in completing the required unpaid teaching internship. The funds also will help with costs associated with state teacher certification tests, as well as other expenses associated with higher education but not covered by the Kalamazoo Promise, such as books, fees and transportation. Students who successfully complete the program will be guaranteed a job interview with KPS. If hired, the new teacher must commit to at least three years of teaching in KPS.

William F. Pickard

A well-known Detroit entrepreneur, Pickard has spent the past three decades building business success. In 1999, he launched Global Automotive Alliance LLC, a company that operates six manufacturing entities with eight plants in four states and Canada.

In 2002, he was honored by the Detroit News as Michiganian of the Year for his mentorship of new entrepreneurs and his leadership at Global Automotive and with a variety of civic, community and business organizations. In 2010, Hour Detroit Magazine honored him as a Detroiter of the Year for leadership and philanthropy, particularly in the areas of the arts, education and entrepreneurship. Pickard is also a trustee of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Pickard, who was honored in 1980 as a WMU Distinguished Alumnus, also earned a master's degree from the University of Michigan and a doctoral degree from Ohio State University. He has taught at U-M's Ross Business School and at Wayne State University. Appointed in June by Gov. Rick Snyder to be a member of the WMU Board of Trustees, Pickard's visit to campus this week includes a presentation as part of the Haworth College of Business Distinguished Speaker Series.

Advia Foundation

Advia Credit Union announced the formation of The Advia Foundation in January 2016. Its mission is to provide financial advantages by enhancing financial literacy, furthering education, and improving quality of life in the communities it serves. In addition to the $25,000 funding for the Future Educators Program, this year the Foundation is funding 25 $1,000 youth scholarships to high school seniors who are attending college or trade schools and has allocated $5,000 to a newly created scholarship program for teachers to improve financial literacy in the classroom.

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.