Supporter Stories

Ruth Bettandorff


“I always knew that education was important to my parents -- neither of whom went beyond high school. They pushed and pulled my three sisters and me to do our best and be prepared for the college life they could never have. Then one day our lives drastically changed; my father died, leaving my mother with an 8 year old and two daughters in college (my oldest sister was married by this point). They didn't have any savings, but my father had been a soldier in World War II so we had VA benefits and, with part-time jobs, we could continue our schooling. And so could my mother!

After pushing and pulling and cajoling her, as she had so often done for us, she took the ACT, located her old high school transcripts, packed up our little sister and moved 150 miles to the nearest town with a community college. Now there were three undergrads in the family and mother was launched on her way to becoming an R.N. at 45 years of age!

She was a wonderful student -- soaking up everything she could get her hands on. You can't imagine how we all cheered and made wild noises the day she got her degree. As an R.N., she was better able to provide and could ensure that my younger sister also had the opportunity to go to college.

I began to study adult students and, after getting my Ph.D. in Higher Education with an emphasis in Adult Education, I have now worked with adult students, especially women, for over 25 years. If only, oh, if only, there had been a Jeannette Rankin Scholarship to help mother out! Thank goodness JRF is now there for other women who find themselves in her shoes. It is with great pride that my sisters and I, along with many of mother's friends, are able to dedicate a scholarship in her memory -- to help another woman get the education that will make a difference in her life, just as education made such a difference for us.”