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The Marion Family with Jo Allen.

Endowing a Gift Lasts Forever

By Emily Parker

Endowing a Gift Lasts Forever

By Emily Parker

Cathy Smith Marion, ’03, says her father would be so proud of her for completing her degree, an opportunity he did not have as one of 11 children. He was her inspiration to name a $25,000 general scholarship endowment, the Smith-Marion Scholarship Endowment. This endowment will help any student at Meredith College who needs financial support with the first scholarship being awarded in fall 2022.

Marion attended Meredith as a Wings student, Meredith’s adult education program, and graduated in 2003. Her overall experience and academic knowledge received at Meredith, along with her life-long commitment to the advancement and encouragement of women, is why she decided to make this gift. The endowment enabled her to establish a gift that will last forever. 

After years of working her way up at Honeywell, working in customer service and marketing, and establishing sales and service facilities at airports in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, Marion was told she had reached her ceiling in promotions as she didn’t have a college degree. She went back to college at night while working full time, married with a three-and four-year-old. That college experience did not go well. 

After moving to Raleigh in 1989, she owned Manufacturing Methods Supplies, Inc., which today is CM Machine Supplies, Inc. It is a sales company representing manufacturers of metal-cutting machinery. Her children were in middle school and didn’t necessarily need her at all of their school functions, so she decided it was time to consider working on her degree again. She got a brochure in the mail from Meredith, visited, and began classes part-time in 1996.

“I felt comfortable immediately,” said Marion. “It took me seven years to finish, but I loved all the women I had classes with. I enjoyed learning with them and the camaraderie of women working together and then the young students meeting with us to study. It was a wonderful mix of students.” 

Marion had classes on average two nights a week and majored in Business Administration/Management. She loved that the campus was close to her home, it was easy to park and walk to class, and that the faculty were so helpful and caring. 

She wants other non-traditional-aged students to know, “If you desire to be educated and move forward in your life, you are never too old to be educated. You are never too old to be a successful woman.”

Marion is also pleased that her daughter, Shalyn, graduated two years after her. According to Marion, Shalyn flourished while attending Meredith. “She became more outgoing and even studied in Italy and Switzerland through Meredith’s study abroad program. Meredith made her a more confident young lady.” After graduation, Shalyn obtained her master’s in accounting at UNC-Greensboro and is a CPA.

“I am proud of both of my kids and their successful college careers. They received the opportunity I never had at their age,” said Marion.

After years of giving to Meredith, Marion talked with a gift officer at Meredith, “I learned about the endowment process and that I could give money for a scholarship. I encourage people to contact the College and learn how they can give to their passion.”

Marion’s goal is to help educate other women at Meredith. “Who would not want to do this if you have the means to help? It is important for women to support other women. We need to encourage women to step into government roles, making decisions for a more humane world.”

Marion admits earning her degree was at times difficult. “I am proud of myself for doing it. I worked full-time, my husband traveled 60% of the time, and I would do homework after my kids went to bed. I made it work for my schedule and Meredith faculty helped me every step of the way. It was a big deal to my family, and my sister threw me a party after graduation!”

Having earned her degree, Marion continues to stay connected with Meredith, and she is appreciative that the College keeps alumnae so engaged. “It is a good feeling just to be on campus. Do you know the songThe House that Built Me? That is what I feel like when I come back to campus for events.”

Marion always thinks back to her father when reflecting on her degree and now on the scholarship endowment.  “He would be proud that I went to college, owned a successful business for 30 years, and always remembered that this life was all through the grace of God. I’m thankful to be able to encourage other young women, through him.”

If you are interested in creating your own endowment and want to learn more, please contact Institutional Advancement at (919) 760-8206 or email

Did you know that endowments last forever?

Meredith alumnae or friends wishing to make a lasting impact on campus can create an endowment, through a gift during their lifetime or through their estate, designated towards an area that means the most to them. The choices are endless, from a scholarship endowment that can help any student at Meredith, to one that supports students pursuing a particular major or in a certain program. Donors can even create endowments to support schools, departments, or programs at Meredith, maintenance, or landscaping. The endowment generates an amount each year to be spent in a way chosen by the donor, and the principle of the endowment remains untouched. In this way, endowments continue to help Meredith College in perpetuity, strengthening the future of the College.

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