Clara Mason Boswell always encouraged her four children to do their best and pursue their passions. And one of those children, Debra Boswell Phelps, took those lessons to heart.
Clara earned a bachelor's degree in home economics education in 1954 and a master's degree in science education in 1964, and her experience at East Carolina University had a strong influence on Debra. It led Debra to attend ECU, the place where Debra and her mother learned so much about life.
"She was just a great role model. She loved ECU, she supported it, and children do learn from their parents," Debra says. "I saw how ECU helped her, and I saw what a wonderful education my mother got there. She had family and friends and teachers that encouraged her to always do the best and she passed it on to us."
Debra earned a bachelor's degree in home economics education from ECU in 1980 and taught for 13 years, always looking to her mother and father who encouraged her to do her best and pursue her passions.
"(My mother) went back and got more degrees from ECU while she was raising four children. She always encouraged me—all her kids—to do whatever we wanted to do and to not be afraid to take a chance, so I did."
In 1993, Debra quit teaching. From 1993 to 1997, she traveled the world, working many different jobs, including a stint as an English language teacher, working for the fourth richest man in Turkey.
While living at a resort and teaching less than 6 hours a day, Debra had a chance to see Turkey and get to know its people and culture. "It was the experience of a lifetime. Anything you could do on a resort, I did it."
PROVIDING AN OPPORTUNITY FOR OTHERS
Now, Debra hopes to recognize her mother's influence and encourage future East Carolina students by creating the Mason-Boswell Discretionary Endowment Fund for Family and Consumer Sciences.
"(My education at ECU) was a foundation. After getting what I needed in high school to go on to college, ECU also gave me a foundation and background that I could take with me for a lifetime," Debra says.
And her support of ECU provides an opportunity for others to follow their dreams. "There are a lot of kids out there who do have things they want to do, but because of their economic situation, they might not be able to do it. If I can give back and a person is helped, then I'm glad I can do it," Debra says. "ECU is my alma mater, so that's why I'm supporting it."
HOW YOU CAN HELP OTHERS
To learn how you can provide opportunities to future ECU students, contact Kendra Alexander at 252-328-9566 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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