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Rita Sherwin

Rita Sherwin

Rita Sherwin was curious about how she could give to the University of Oklahoma. Then, one day, she overheard a conversation about estate gifts by her colleague, Gary Beadles, vice president and general counsel at the OU Foundation.

A 28-year employee of the OU Foundation, Rita said planned giving was relatively new to her. "I thought, 'Wow, that's pretty cool.' So I started quizzing Gary and asking him questions. I thought it was a really great idea. I did not have to give up front; in fact, it's a really painless way of giving to the University."

Rita wanted to make a charitable contribution to OU, but needed to do so in a way that would fit her own personal and financial needs. After discussing the idea with her daughter, Rita worked with OU's planned giving staff and included OU in her estate with a gift to establish an endowed scholarship for students who are single parents or are children of single parents.

"I was a single parent and my daughter got scholarships, and it was a godsend to receive that money," said Rita, whose daughter graduated from OU in 2005 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. "I just thought that was a way I could pay back - or pay it forward, so to speak. I could establish a scholarship for single parents or children of single parents, too, and I wouldn't have to pay this very second."

Rita has already started giving to the fund, making a $1,000 cash gift in the spring. The OU Foundation matches employee gifts, so Rita is able to double the impact of her gift. She hopes to endow the fund before the planned gift is realized, and said her estate gift will only enhance the scholarship fund.

"Scholarship money is needed now more than ever. It feels good to me that I am doing this," she said. "Anybody can make a planned gift and in any amount. There's no giving amount that's required."

By making an estate gift, Rita is a member of the George Lynn Cross Society. Rita said she knows she will leave a lasting legacy of support for generations of OU students. After a brief pause, Rita reflected on the scholarship and its future impact, saying, "It feels good to give a gift that will last forever."