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A Scholarship to Support Women Professionals

A Scholarship to Support Women Professionals
Dolores Hanna knows how hard it is to break through the glass ceiling. A native of Chicago, Ms. Hanna came to Ohio University to expand her horizons through a liberal arts education and prepare for law school. She worked hard and paid her way through school, and then continued her education at Chicago Kent College of Law. She was one of only a few women enrolled in her law school and the first woman hired at her law firm. Her professional training continued after earning her law license since she learned Intellectual Property law in her first job. Her on-the-job training was made all the more difficult by the fact that she had no professional female mentors.

Since the professions were traditionally male-dominated, men could feel secure in their fraternity; women like Ms. Hanna, however, had little support. Even professional women tended to see other women as competition and preferred to safeguard their own status. Despite the institutional hostility to women's advancement in the profession, Ms. Hanna became a prominent attorney. She worked for Kraft during a formative period for trademark law. As she rose within the profession, Ms. Hanna achieved many honors and firsts. Most notably, she became the first woman president of the International Trademark Association, an achievement that opened the door for many subsequent women. Ms. Hanna has always been proud of the achievements of other women, and she enjoys celebrating women's success in areas where they have not traditionally been allowed to perform.

Ms. Hanna believes that mentoring relationships should be a top priority to help women enter the job market and advance professionally. An event hosted by Ohio University, in which alumni lawyers returned to speak to students interested in pursuing a career in law, gave Ms. Hanna the opportunity to turn this opinion into action. Lyndsay Markley, the student who picked up Ms. Hanna from the airport, participated in the day's activities and decided to go to law school. Ms. Hanna saw a possibility to be the mentor that she wished she could have had. They kept in touch and became friends. Lyndsay graduated from the same law school as Ms. Hanna, and today she is a practicing lawyer in Chicago. Recently the two returned to the Ohio University Pre-Law day together.

While this mentoring relationship is special, Ms. Hanna hoped to replicate it on a more modest scale. She had donated to Ohio University before, but she considered making her contributions more specific. She decided to fund a scholarship through a charitable gift annuity (CGA) for a woman interested in a professional career.

The scholarship provides a modicum of financial comfort to supplement other sources of funding, but it is more important for what it represents. Ms. Hanna hopes it will show professional women that their goals are worthwhile. The scholarship communicates to female students that there are other professional women who are interested in and invested in their success. Ms. Hanna hopes to provide these women a sense of support and security that she did not herself enjoy.

Ms. Hanna can feel good about her gift. The CGA provides reliable annual income, which she contributes to the scholarship each year; at the end of a lifetime of payments, the remainder of the annuity will go toward the scholarship. The gift will leave a meaningful legacy since it will help to make professional women feel that they are not alone so they can feel secure walking in the footsteps of Ms. Hanna's generation.