Mary Kaiser Smith
“My first day of teaching was a little overwhelming, knowing that I was responsible for teaching ALL the subjects,” says Mary Kaiser Smith. She had just graduated from college where every subject was taught by a different teacher. That was 67 years ago. Today, Mary helps future teachers prepare for their first day in the classroom through her gift of scholarship support.
Mary has seen the cost of education spiral since she graduated, and she doesn’t think acquiring student loans is a long-term solution. “So many students take on so much debt while in school that it becomes difficult for them to repay. By not having a lot of debt after graduation, students are better set for success,” said Mary.
The Mary Kaiser Smith Elementary Education Endowed Scholarship is awarded to juniors. Scholarship recipients often send her letters of gratitude telling her how much they needed financial help. She says it is satisfying to know she is making a difference for UNI students. In the future, the plans Mary has in place for UNI through her estate will add to her scholarship.
Now that Mary is retired after 38 years of teaching, she continues to make a difference in her community through volunteer work. On Saturdays she is busy helping at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens and Monday evenings she serves meals at the American Legion to help raise money for soldiers. She is also active in her neighborhood association.