60 Years Ago He Couldn’t Afford College–Now He’s Donating $20M to Fulfill the Dreams of Students Today
While countless brilliant men and women don’t have college diplomas, their achievements often speak for themselves. Still, having access to higher education can be an integral stepping stone on the path to success.
It’s a double-whammy when marginalized students who’ve traditionally faced financial barriers to obtaining degrees find themselves drowning in debt by the time they graduate.
Few know the challenges of this particular obstacle course better than Calvin Tyler, who abandoned his own collegiate dreams six decades ago when tuition became too steep.
In 1961, Tyler enrolled as a student of business administration at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore. When his funds dried up in 1963, a year shy of graduation, he took a job as a UPS driver.
Tyler’s lack of a college diploma might have been considered a setback by some, but it didn’t deter this driver with a true drive from steadily rising in the ranks. By the time he retired in 1998, Tyler was Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations and was seated on the UPS board of directors.
Tyler’s hard work and grit paid off, but he knew that in the business world, his story was the exception rather than the rule. So, in 2002, he and his wife established the Calvin and Tina Tyler Endowed Scholarship Fund at the historically Black university he once attended.
By granting full-tuition scholarships to select Baltimore students in need, they hoped to elevate them to a place where they’d be able to gain a first foothold on the corporate ladder. How far they climbed would be up to them.
In 2016, the Tylers raised the bar, endowing the fund with $5 million. Earlier this year, they broke their own record, pledging $20 million in scholarship endowments.
Tyler says he and his wife were compelled by the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on students already struggling to do what they could to help close the financial gap.
“This is why we are increasing our commitment,” he explained. “We want to have more full-tuition scholarships offered to young people so that they can graduate from college and enter the next stage of their life debt-free.”
Morgan State President David Wilson addressed the couple’s magnanimous ongoing support in a statement that said in part: “Through their historic giving, the doors of higher education will most certainly be kept open for generations of aspiring leaders whose financial shortfalls may have kept them from realizing their academic dreams…
“The Tylers’ generosity over the years, culminating with this transformative commitment, is a remarkable example of altruism with great purpose.”
Calvin Tyler might not have a college diploma to hang on his wall, but he’s earned an advanced degree in paying it forward many times over—and that’s one course of study all of us can learn from.