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On the cutting edge

Premier Flagship Scholar and benefactor share more than a hometown

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  • Story by Lisa Bruce
  • Photos by Shane Epping
  • Published: June 26, 2008
Dena Eddleman

Dena Eddleman, the first Flagship Scholar from Clark County, plans to go to culinary school after she graduates. "I've always liked cooking," she says. She just returned from a two-week Mizzou study-abroad program in Florence, Italy, where she studied Mediterranean cuisine.

The minute Dena Eddleman got the e-mail informing her she’d been selected as the first Flagship Scholar from Clark County, she danced around her apartment with her cat. Then she called her mother. Eddleman, a senior hotel and restaurant management major at Mizzou, will receive $15,000 to cover tuition, books and other expenses for the 2008-09 school year.

To help make higher education attainable for more Missourians, the newly established Flagship Scholars program aims to provide at least one full-ride, four-year Mizzou scholarship to a student in every Missouri county as well as the city of St. Louis. The largely rural counties of Audrain, Caldwell and Marion have been selected for some of the first Flagship Scholarships, funded by gifts made to help launch the program for the coming school year. So far Clark County is the only county with a fully endowed scholarship.

Eddleman's scholarship was made possible by a Mizzou graduate close to home. On June 26, Chancellor Emeritus Richard Wallace announced that Clark County native and Mizzou alumnus Mark McAndrew and his wife, Stephanie McAndrew, would fully endow a Flagship Scholarship. The couple donated $1.4 million, a gift that, Wallace said, ensures a scholarship of up to $15,000 a year for as many as four students in perpetuity. McAndrew named the scholarship for his parents, Jack and Ladene McAndrew.

The CEO and the student

A surprising number of similarities exist between Eddleman and McAndrew, the chairman and chief executive officer of the supplemental life and health insurance company Torchmark Corporation in McKinney, Texas.

Both grew up in Clark County and went to school in Kahoka, a town of about 2,000 residents in far northeast Missouri. Both are the first members of their families to pursue higher education, a circumstance the Flagship Scholars program specifically targets by giving priority to first-generation university students.

Eddleman and McAndrew both grew up watching their parents work hard to support their families. Eddleman’s father works in a factory, and her mother is a school custodian. McAndrew recalls his father holding more than one job at a time — work that included constructing roads and building levees — while his mother worked at a bank and ran a catering business to help support the seven-child family.

Eddleman and McAndrew adhere to the work ethic established by their parents. Eddleman took on more of her college expenses after her father suffered a heart attack between her freshman and sophomore years in college. She typically logs 30 to 40 hours a week as a server in a restaurant and has carried a course load of up to 18 credit hours per semester at Mizzou. McAndrew had to drop out of Mizzou after his sophomore year and work in a factory north of Columbia, building overhead projectors. He returned to school while working full time and supporting a family. He graduated in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

But the most striking similarity between the two: the emotion they show when crediting their parents for their achievements.

Eddleman gets teary-eyed when she talks about her family: “The fact they’re giving me the chance to [attend college] even though they don’t have the money to pay for it all like some people do — they want me to have a good life — it means a lot because they don’t have to, but they do. I have really great parents.”

During the scholarship announcement, McAndrew paused, overcome with emotion, when talking about his parents: “They taught me the importance of integrity, the importance of dealing with people fairly. So I’m honored to provide this legacy of two people that have had the biggest impact on my life — two people that I’ve always looked up to.” McAndrew’s mother died in 1995, but his father was present for the announcement.

Giving back

Community service plays an important role in the Flagship Scholars program. The scholars are expected to act as ambassadors for education in their communities. Eddleman will be required to perform community service in Clark County as part of her scholarship. She looks forward to possibly working with high school students interested in going to college.

“Giving back makes you feel good that you’re helping somebody besides yourself,” Eddleman says.

McAndrew says establishing the Flagship Scholarship allowed him to achieve two goals: encouraging Clark County students to attend college and giving back to the University of Missouri.

“I see so few kids coming out of rural areas — at least the rural areas [where] I grew up — that see the opportunity to go to college. In fact, so few of them see the need to go to college because they don’t see what opportunities are out there in this world,” McAndrew said. “I learned quickly that intelligence alone isn’t enough. You have to have education. Without education, you don’t obtain the skills, and you don’t get the chance to really use your intelligence and prove what you can do. That’s what the University of Missouri did for me.”

Read more in:  EducationFamily & CommunityBeyond Campus

Reader feedback

  • I was SO happy to see this article because I grew up in Kahoka and attended MU for two years and one summer. My husband, Thomas Burns, graduated from MU in 1956 with a degree in electrical engineering. What a wonderful gift this was to the university and also to Kahoka.  I knew Jack and LaDene slightly -- and also Jack's brother and his wife. Thank you for sharing it. 
  • My parents both grew up in Kahoka. Both went to college in the 1920s and were forever grateful for the opportunity. Dad went on to become a lifelong college professor.

    This is a wonderful endowment and a great gift. I wish Dena success and perhaps the ability to "give back" one day as well.

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Last updated: Feb. 22, 2012