Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Debra Kent Glidden ’68

A conversation with…

Debra Kent Glidden ’68

  • Go Beyond campaign co-chair
  • Managing partner at Core Point Partners

Why I invest my time in Wheaton.

Debra Kent Glidden '68 with Claire Anderson '09, Mary Elizabeth Robinson Endowed Scholar

It’s because I can make a difference, I have a distinct emotional connection to Wheaton, and my efforts, time and resources are widely appreciated. After I moved to Atlanta, I felt far away from Wheaton. Then about 15 years ago, President Dale Marshall and Catherine Conover, vice president for advancement, invited several Atlanta-area alums to lunch. I really connected with both of them and decided I needed some meaning in my life again, since I was going through a very difficult time.

Reconnecting.

I set up a scholarship fund in memory of my grandmother, who had recently died. The Mary Elizabeth Robinson Murphy Scholarship was for students studying or performing music, since my grandmother and I had enjoyed that together. That was the beginning of my giving back to Wheaton.

Relationships.

I met Val, the first of “my” students, and I suggested we perform some music together. Val had a beautiful voice, so I accompanied her on the piano as she sang jazz and Broadway tunes. We developed a great friendship. Sarah was the next recipient, and we got together to play piano pieces for each other. As Sarah started her last piece, my body froze, and tears started running down my cheeks. Sarah was playing my grandmother’s favorite piece of music! Of course, I told everyone on campus that weekend about this amazing experience.

Success story.

To date, my grandmother’s scholarship fund has helped six students, and I have connected with each one through music. With them I celebrate weddings, babies’ births, children’s successes, and two years ago we had a mini-reunion of the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Murphy students. They all came, with husbands and children, to celebrate each other. These experiences and friendships with students are a huge part of the emotional connection I have with Wheaton.

Why endowed scholarships?

Education is the most important gift we can give to the younger generation, as it enables them to learn to think, to solve problems, to achieve great things in their lives, and to give back to society. Especially in this recession, endowed scholarships are critical to helping students and their families afford a first-rate education at a small, private liberal arts college. Wheaton emphasizes diversity in all its forms, including religious, ethnic, racial, sexual and socioeconomic. We can all learn from one another, and the diverse experience is richer than one where everyone is “alike.”

Photo / Tim Morse