Why Invest? 

Couple Reaps Joy from Scholarship Gift

When Marcia Heidenreich first spoke about making a major gift to Africa University, it seemed an unlikely prospect—even to her. She had read about a couple who endowed a scholarship and remarked to her husband Duane, that if she ever ‘won the lottery’, that’s what she would do.

Duane and Marcia Heidenreich had the desire, but not the financial means. The couple had met and married while studying at the University of Colorado. Mr. Heidenreich trained in Sacred Music and Special Education and became a teacher in the Illinois public school system. Mrs. Heidenreich stayed at home to care for her family and went into the workplace when the children were grown. They raised five children—two biological and three adopted. They also cared for 20 children in their home—a state-licensed, specialized foster home for especially difficult youngsters—over a period of two decades.

The Heidenreichs visited the Africa University campus in 1994, just two years after the institution opened and before the graduation of its pioneer class. They were moved by the experience and formed relationships that took them back there in 1999. Four years later, an opportunity arose to make good on their desire to invest in Africa University.

When her mother died, Marcia realized that her inheritance could be the ‘lottery’ money,” said Duane Heidenreich. “Every penny of the inheritance went toward the endowment, and it turned out to be almost exactly the amount needed.”

Over the past 10 years, the scholarship that the Heidenreichs’ endowed with their gift of $116,000 has helped six students to get a life-changing education at Africa University. The gift was made in honor of Marcia Heidenreich’s parents, Karl G. and Saradora D. Plitt. Their initial investment has grown to more than $143,000 (as of Dec. 2014). Currently, interest income from this endowed scholarship is supporting a young man from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who is in his second year of a four-year business degree. 

“More than a legacy, it has been a great joy for us, knowing that each year a student is attending college who would not otherwise be able to,” said Marcia Heidenreich. “And this will continue year after year. There is nothing else we could have used that money for that could have brought us that much pleasure.”

The Heidenreichs’ journey with Africa University continues. In 2005, they made their third visit to the campus. They met and became friends with an agriculture student from the DRC named David Makobo N’shikala. They helped Makobo with tuition fees for his master’s degree in crop production. In 2010, Makobo returned to DRC as the founding dean of the school of agriculture at Katanga Methodist University, where he took a pioneer class through to graduation in 2014. 

Makobo now serves as an agricultural missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. He is stationed in Senegal, where he is helping to reduce hunger and make the church more self-supporting. And, as Mrs. Heidenreich puts it, “what a perfect example of what Africa University is all about!”

For more information about endowed scholarships and other opportunities to invest in the ministry that is Africa University visit: support-africauniversity.org.