Alumni Establish Endowed Scholarship To Support Leaders in LGTBQ+ Advocacy

Oglethorpe alumni Ruth Ritch Winecker ’87 and John Winecker ’85 have recently endowed a scholarship to aid a student who shows leadership in the advocacy of LGBTQ+ issues on campus. This new endowed fund builds upon their previous support of an annual scholarship and affirms their commitment to ensuring that LGBTQ students have the resources they need to succeed.

Reflecting on their time at OU, both shared their positive experience as students, noting how supportive the faculty were as they found their way through the liberal arts curriculum, and how important the sense of community at Oglethorpe was in their personal and professional growth.

When initially thinking of how to make an impact at Oglethorpe, they considered their own life experiences. John, who spent the latter part of his career as a teacher, says he saw many LGBTQ+ students struggle with coming out and endure other difficulties throughout high school. Ruth, who is a principal scientist at the Center for Forensic Science Advancement and Application at RTI International and is also involved in community theater in their area of North Carolina, has friends and colleagues in the LGBTQ+ community and learned much from their experiences and stories.

“We thought we should do this for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Ruth. “The leadership aspect of the scholarship also ties with Oglethorpe’s goal to grow leaders, and we felt this was an area that needed focus.”

They began by making an annual scholarship donation nearly a decade ago. Ruth shared that as they learned more about the options to support the university philanthropically, they realized there were ways to make a lasting impact beyond writing an annual check. The Wineckers have now taken their commitment a step further by establishing an endowed scholarship fund that will provide perpetual funding for generations to come.

This scholarship not only provides financial assistance but also serves as a way to encourage students who are championing LGBTQ+ issues and remind students that they are seen, heard and celebrated for who they are.

“It would be nice if something like this isn’t needed in the future – if we don’t have to do special things for the LGBTQ+ community because they’re just treated and accepted by everybody,” says John. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

They’re proud to be able to establish this scholarship at their alma mater, and they know the university is committed to creating safe spaces for all students – where every individual is valued for their unique identity and perspective.

Through their generosity and vision, the Wineckers are not only investing in the university but also leaving a lasting legacy that will uplift and inspire students. This scholarship is a tangible example of the transformative impact that can be achieved when alumni support Oglethorpe and its students and, in turn, create positive change in the world.