Meet the Cudworth Family, Scholarship Donors
Kelly and Melissa Cudworth met while they were students at Western, and graduated together from the Journalism department in 2001. The couple, through Kelly’s company NuLeaf Office Solutions, established an annual scholarship in 2009 and have renewed the scholarship each year since including this year’s gift of $2,500. We recently spoke with Kelly about their affinity for Western and the importance of scholarships.
Q: Tell us a bit about your story, Kelly. How did you come to be a scholarship donor to Western?
A: I came to Western as a transfer student from Whatcom Community College. Coming out of high school, I didn’t have the direction and drive that I do now. That path through WCC was a good one for me, and I found a home in the Journalism Department once I got to Western. I had to pay my way through school. I knew that someday I wanted to be able to give back, to help students pay their way through school. Melissa and I graduated from that program together and I have since gone on to become president of my family’s business in Seattle. As soon as I was able to, we established an annual scholarship in the journalism department. That award goes to a deserving student in the program, with preference given to students who transferred from a community college.
Q: What drew you to the journalism program at Western?
A: I saw that studying journalism at Western would help me develop skills that would be applicable immediately to the real world. One of the requirements in that program is you have to write for the Western Front as a reporter. Those skills I built in that role have served me well. And I’d say that no matter what you go into, be it sales or marketing, or just about any other field, the skills you develop as a reporter will serve you too. Those skills are strong assets that every employer is looking for: confidence, problem-solving abilities, the willingness and ability to engage with people in unfamiliar situations, and of course writing ability. I’ve been pleased to see that the program continues to flourish and grow and I’m glad to help support the students there.
Q: Why do you feel a connection to supporting community college transfer students? Is there something about those students in particular?
A: For some students, the community college path is the most appropriate one to take. Based on my personal experience, I know that some students may not have the academic or financial resources to succeed at Western immediately out of high school. However, using a community college as a stepping stone, many of them have a stronger drive to succeed once they do get to Western. I know that was the case for me. They are more focused on what they want to do, and many of them have financial needs and are more appreciative of the scholarship support as well.
Q: Tell us about your experience as a scholarship donor … what have you learned?
A: I had previously thought that only really large gifts could establish scholarships, and that’s simply not the case at all. I feel so good about this gift I make every year, because I’m really proud that I went to Western and I’m delighted to give back in this way. The other thing that has been really great has been the ability to attend scholarship lunches with the students and other donors. At these events I get to meet the students I’m supporting, and other students and donors as well. It’s a very tangible experience. You never know who might become a client or a future employee! Western is a really great community and I’m so pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of it. I think there are a lot of folks out there who have capacity to support Western at levels like we have. I appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to tell this story. I hope other people see that they can give in this way as well.