Scholarship Donor and Past Recipient Team Up to Establish New Butler Scholarship – Stories
Reverend Jean McAnulty Smith ʼ65 and Lydia Johnson ʼ12, MFA ʼ15 first met in 2012 during the Butler scholarship celebration. Johnson was the very first recipient of the Reverend Jean McAnulty Smith Scholarship, and the couple were featured at a breakfast at the annual event where scholarship recipients and donors have the opportunity to meet. . Nearly a decade later, Smith and Johnson have a close friendship and recently established a new scholarship together in Johnson’s name to continue to pass the gift of a butler education to the next generation of students.
Smith was originally inspired by her daughter to consider starting a scholarship at Butler in 2007. Smith already felt deeply connected to Butler through her service as a trustee for 12 years and as a current trustee emeritus. , but her daughter suggested that being a scholarship donor would allow her to connect with individual Butler students in a way she might not otherwise have the chance. Although she has met almost all of her fellows over the years, Smith says her relationship with Johnson has been a special joy.
Johnson remembers her excitement at having the chance to meet Smith for the first time as a college student in 2012, although she did not anticipate the long and meaningful relationship that would develop as a result of the meeting.
“She didn’t exactly say, ‘Hey, let’s be friends for another 10 years, or more!’ but Jean is very good at keeping in touch with people and encouraging them as they go through different stages, “said Johnson.” She is a very good friend, so she was always watching me, inviting me to things and saw how I was, even after I graduated. We just kept in touch because Jean is that kind of person.
After earning her undergraduate degree in English, Johnson obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Butler in 2015. She is now a Chief of Staff at Indy Reads, a local nonprofit that works for the literacy, English language and employment. readiness readiness for residents of Marion County. She also works as a freelance writer and poet and teaches at the Indiana Writers Center. Smith has been a staunch friend through it all, introducing Johnson to several of her own friends and inviting Johnson to be her guest for various events and outings, including Butler basketball games and visits to the Downtown Cabaret. .
“There is so much that Jean introduced me to just wondering if I wanted to come with me,” Johnson says. “Every time I hang out with Jean, I learn something new, I do something new, I meet new people, or we just learn new things about each other. I’m just grateful to be there for the ride. She’s consistent and very loyal, and that’s something I really admire about her.
After the launch of the Butler Beyond Full fundraising campaign in 2019, Smith says she was considering a giveaway to the campaign and planned to add to her existing scholarship fund. Instead, Smith says the idea of creating a new scholarship was once again inspired by her daughter, a fundraising professional, who encouraged her to think more creatively about impact. that she would like to have with her donation. She suggested a new scholarship in Johnson’s honor that would allow Johnson, a former scholar, to begin building her own relationship with Butler’s students as a donor.
“My daughter said to me, ‘Mom, just think about what it would be like for Lydia at her age to start forming the kind of relationship you’ve had all these years,” Smith said.
Johnson says she was at first taken aback by the idea and was moved by Smith’s willingness to include her in the process of giving back.
“At first it didn’t make sense to me that someone who had the money to start a scholarship would just decide, ‘I don’t want to do it for myself, I want to do it for someone else. ‘other so that he can create a legacy of their own, ”Johnson says. “I couldn’t grasp this. I didn’t think I had the capacity to do something like this until much, much later in life. So to have the chance to do it now, with Jean’s help, is amazing. It means so much to me and my family.
After absorbing the idea Smith was proposing, Johnson knew she wanted to honor her grandparents with the new scholarship. Huyle and Lillie Johnson were born in the 1920s in isolated Tennessee and were denied the opportunity to attend college, although they faithfully supported their children and grandchildren in pursuing every opportunity. educational available.
“They believed that education gave them more options and would give their children even more options because they would have greater opportunities,” says Johnson. “So they would always encourage us, ‘You’re going to go to school; you are going to go to university; you are going to do something with your life. They successfully guided us in this direction without having had these experiences themselves. “
Officially established earlier this year, the Huyle, Lillie and Lydia Johnson Scholarship Fund ʼ12, MFA ’15 will support students in financial need, with preference given to first generation students graduating from Indianapolis public schools or recipients of Dr. John Morton-Finney Diversity Research Fellowship or the Indiana 21st Century Stock Exchange.
While Smith was the primary donor to establish the scholarship, Johnson’s family members have already started contributing to the fund, and Johnson herself hopes to maintain the fund for future students.
“One of the things I love about Jean, besides being such a loyal friend to myself and to others, is how much she values the legacy,” Johnson said. “She always talks about her dad, her brother and the other family members, and that’s something I really appreciate too. This scholarship gives me the opportunity to have my own legacy at Butler, and I am more than grateful to him for making this possible.
Johnson says she looks forward to meeting the scholarship recipients and serving as a mentor for those who may be open to it. Most importantly, she says she can’t wait to see future students seize the same opportunities that were offered to her as a fellow.
“John’s scholarship came to me at a time when I really needed it, so I just hope that the funds we are able to give students will help ease some of the financial burden of their studies and will help them be just a little more focused on getting their degree instead of paying for it, ”Johnson says.
Smith hopes other alumni see the value of investing in the scholarships and the potential they offer to meaningfully engage with Butler’s students.
“It’s a chance for those who have graduated from Butler and have done well not only to be able to give back, but it’s a wonderful way to stay in touch with the school beyond just writing. a check, ”Smith said.
The Huyle, Lillie and Lydia Johnson ’12, MFA ’15 scholarship fund will be awarded to the first recipient in the fall of 2021. Next year, for the first time, Smith and Johnson will have the chance to return to where they met for. the first time, this time attending the Butler Scholarship Celebration as donors.
“This is Lydia’s story,” Smith says. “I’m very proud of her and just excited to have played a small part in her life.”
Student access and success
At the heart of Butler Beyond is the desire to increase student access and success, making butler training available to anyone who wishes to pursue it. With a focus on enhancing the overall student experience that underpins a butler education, donations to this pillar will increase scholarships, improve student support services, expand experiential learning opportunities, and more. Learn more, give a gift and read more stories like this on beyond.butler.edu.