The impact that scholarships have on students’ lives is extraordinary. Knowing that, Dr. Chapman Rackaway and his wife, Andrea, of Hays, have decided to give back to students at Fort Hays State University by creating two scholarship funds.
Due to meaningful individual experiences, the Rackaways have established scholarships aimed at bettering the lives of those who share similar experiences. The Chapman and Andrea Rackaway World Ready Adoption Scholarship will benefit students who were adopted. A GPA of 2.75 or higher is required, with preference given to students studying political science who show an interest in campaign politics.
The Chapman and Andrea Rackaway World Ready Elementary Education Scholarship will provide support to a non-traditional student majoring in elementary education who is completing the student teaching requirement. Preference for this scholarship will be given to those with a GPA of 3.2 or higher who are residents of Ellis or Russell County.
Chapman is a professor of political science at FHSU.
The Rackaways, who have two adopted children of their own, said, “Both scholarships truly are a reflection of who we are and what we’ve been through. Even though the stories are ours, I know they are not unique. There are many students wanting to make their lives better through education, and every little bit can help.”
Chapman’s desire to help others was mainly inspired by his own parents.
“I’m adopted, and it shaped my entire life,” he said. “My adoptive parents were wonderful folks, and I could not have wanted a better family. They taught me the importance of family and how it is a foundation built on love and not biology. It doesn’t matter that I have no biological connection to my parents. They will always be my parents.”
He said that what inspired him to establish a scholarship fund at FHSU was the recently established World Ready Fund, a contribution made by recent graduates Jessica and Tyler Thompson.
“Tyler was in my American government class a long time back, and he was the Student Government Association president while I was president of Faculty Senate,” he said. “I saw what he and Jess did with their World Ready scholarship, and I thought it was a wonderful thing to do for FHSU.”
It wasn’t until after completing his Ph.D. that Rackaway came to Hays. While he remembers how he had never been farther west than Lawrence at the time, the job he was seeking at FHSU seemed like it was custom made for him. He has now been a part of the Fort Hays State family for 12 years and says he has found a home on the plains of western Kansas.
Andrea is a Hays native who found a love for learning at an early age, as education and service to others were always stressed in her home. She was inspired by her great grandfather, John Schlyer, a state representative who played a key role in acquiring the land that Fort Hays State sits on today. Her mother was also a great inspiration. She returned to school later in life to obtain her teaching degree, showing Andrea that it was never too late to find your place in the world.
Graduating from FHSU in 2005, Andrea later returned to the university to pursue a second degree. She graduated with Bachelor of Science in Education in 2012 and has since been working as a fifth-grade teacher in Russell. Her plans include pursuing a Master of Science in Education as a reading specialist.
She went back to school while raising her children. “I was a non-traditional student returning for a second degree. I was married and had children that relied on me. I know that student teaching is a full-time job, and I know how it is a stretch for some families to make it all happen.”
The Rackaways, who met on the Fort Hays State campus, wanted to customize their scholarship funds according to their own preferences and individual interests. However, they wish they hadn’t waited so long to do so.
“I imagine some people think that setting scholarships up would be a big task, but we went from idea to signatures in less than a week,” Chapman said.
“The process of setting up our scholarship funds has been much easier than we ever expected,” she said. “I wish we had known that and started the ball rolling earlier. One night we decided to send an email off to the FHSU Foundation with our ideas, and within two days we had a draft of what our scholarships would look like. It was a simple yet exciting process.”
Information on how to set up a scholarship fund at FHSU is available from the Fort Hays State University Foundation, by phone at 785-628-5620 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the FHSU Foundation, visit http://foundation.fhsu.edu.