Steer Dinner Leadership - Kenneth & Marilyn Hager
Ken Hager worries greatly when he thinks about the cost of education today. He knows that many students struggle to find ways to afford quality higher education.
He also knows that today he and his wife, Marilyn, are in a position to do something about it. They did so at the 2014 Avila University Steer Dinner & Auction as Event Chairs. This year, they’re contributing with their leadership as Honorary Chairs of the 2015 Steer Dinner.
Ken is a first generation college student. Neither of his parents graduated from high school. However, they made it a priority for their children to attend college to have a better life than their parents.
That is a priority for Avila, where almost a third of the incoming freshman class are first generation college students. However, most need scholarships to be able to achieve the dream that their parents had not been able to realize, which is why providing scholarships is so important to Ken.
“Today, the cost of education has gotten so expensive that, for most people without aid, it becomes unaffordable,” he said. “That’s a tragedy. Being able to provide scholarships for students is one of the most important missions we do.”
For Marilyn, helping others has been a way of life nurtured through a career as a nurse. She was appointed the first assistant head nurse at Research Medical Center in 1980, even though she was not coming back full time after the birth of her first child. After seven years as a full-time labor and delivery nurse, she worked 20 more years on-call and taught child-birth education classes before retiring in 2000 to help take care of her elderly parents.
Neither of Marilyn’s parents attended a four-year college – her mother did complete a one year program from a business school – so when she attended UMKC she considered herself a first-generation college student. She said when she learned the high number of Avila students who are first-generation in their families, she was deeply moved.
“That got me,” she said. “And, as I relate that story to merchants I go out and talk to, I think it moves them to support Steer Dinner.”
Marilyn also said that two of the best nurses she ever worked with graduated from Avila.
“I want to see more students like that,” she said.
Ken’s love for Avila took hold after he was asked by his friend, Tom McCullough, to take his place on the University’s Board of Trustees in 2008 and he had the opportunity to
meet Avila President Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA.