Instead of enrolling at MBC in 1985, Kelly became a freshman at another small, liberal arts college on the East Coast. On paper, the school shared many characteristics with Mary Baldwin — except that it was co-ed — but she just wasn’t motivated to do well in class or get involved in co-curricular activities. Kelly was struggling. She realized it. And her parents realized it, too.
After three semesters and with a grade point average that was less than impressive, Kelly gave MBC another chance. That was when things began to turn around.
“Mary Baldwin welcomed Kelly when we didn’t know if she was going to make it through college; we really weren’t sure if we would see her graduate,” said Michael Garrett.
It wasn’t long before Kelly declared a major in history and immersed herself in campus life.
“For the first time, I was excited about college life and about succeeding,” Kelly said.
During her senior year, she served as a resident assistant, and not only did she graduate, she graduated with the Class of 1989 — only 2 ½ years after entering — and earned cum laude honors.
“We made the decision then and there that we would support Mary Baldwin for as long as we are around,” Michael said, describing the family’s contributions as “consistent, but not huge.”
Kelly completed her paralegal degree and worked for law firms in Dallas, New York City, and Connecticut before embracing her role as a full-time mom of three.
The Garretts believe that their motivation to give is likely shared by parents of current and former MBC students; it is both personal and philanthropic.
“We have four granddaughters now, so, of course, we hope at least one of them will choose Mary Baldwin. But, moreover, we feel that if we can help make it possible for MBC to give another student the chance to turn her life around like Kelly did, it is all worth it.”