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K-State Today

February 9, 2012

Chase County brothers establish scholarship at K-State in honor of family

Submitted by Andrew Zender

In a world where many high school students are unsure of what their future holds beyond high school, those who make the jump to college find themselves facing some of the toughest challenges they've ever met. Imagine growing up in a small rural community, graduating from high school in a class of 44 students and transitioning into one of 15,000.

To say the experience is overwhelming is an understatement.

In the case of Mike and Mark Brown, brothers from Cottonwood Falls, Kan., it was the welcoming spirit of the K-State community — many of whom also come from rural backgrounds — that made the shift into college life easier and had a profound effect on their personal and professional lives.

Mike Brown lives in Hockessin, Del., with his wife Pam, and Mark Brown lives in Gilbert, Ariz., with his wife Brenda. Graduates of the K-State College of Engineering, the Brown brothers attribute their success to their upbringing in Chase County — where their parents still live — and their K-State education. As a result, they've established the Brown Family Scholarship to provide students from Chase County with the same opportunity to attend K-State.

"The values I developed growing up in Kansas and Chase County are reflected in all aspects of K-State; the students, faculty and administration," Mark Brown said. "That someone from Chase County will have the same opportunity to attend K-State is exciting."

"Pam and I are proud of being born and raised in Kansas and educated at K-State, where we first met," Mike Brown said. "We want to provide support and encouragement to new students so they too may have the 'K-State experience' that has provided us with 32-year careers and a wonderful 32-year marriage."

The brothers hope the teachers in Chase County can use the scholarship as a tool as they counsel and guide students from the area to Manhattan — and that the recipients will use their K-State degrees and Kansas values to leave their own legacy for future generations. To them, it's all about honoring the sacrifices their parents made to support them financially while they attended K-State — a gift that not every student has the opportunity to receive. They both firmly believe in the power of philanthropy and its potential to make a true difference in people's lives.

"Philanthropy is supporting, through whatever means possible, those organizations, individuals or causes which you value the most," Mark Brown said. "It's putting into action our teachings of helping our fellow man. Brenda and I have been blessed with good fortunes, but we were not fortunate to have children, so we support two great organizations with time and funding, that serve children and young adults."

"For us, philanthropy is about giving and sharing so that others can have a chance at the opportunities that K-State offered us through an education, careers and friendship. We feel blessed and owe a great deal of thanks to K-State, and this gift as a way of showing our gratitude," Mike Brown said.

"I think there are a lot of kids in small towns that sometimes struggle with envisioning their future outside of where they grew up. We want to give them a tool to help them expand their horizons — to be able to use their hometown as a springboard to their future. We want them to know that 'you can get there from here," he said.