March 28, 2014

Charity Breidenbach ’02 (center) and her children Lizzy and Clay

Earning a college degree is a feat regardless of where you are in life, but it’s an especially eventful accomplishment if you are a single parent balancing your child’s welfare with your own education. Charity Breidenbach ’02 has experienced this firsthand. In 2000 she enrolled at Texas A&M University to study psychology and to pursue a commissioning program through the U.S. Navy. She made her transition into college life with her 1-year-old daughter Elisabeth (Lizzy).

Although Lizzy did not attend the Becky Gates Children’s Center, her mother is helping other parents in Aggieland by committing a portion of her estate to the center, which caters to children of faculty, staff and students. Charity’s gift will fund an endowed scholarship to assist full-time, single-parent Texas A&M students with the cost of childcare.

“I understand the challenges and financial worries of being a single parent,” she said. “I want to pay it forward so that more Aggies can attain their educational and career goals without the concern of whether they will have time to study or if their children are getting proper care.”

More than a decade after her Texas A&M graduation, Breidenbach is now a naval lieutenant and aviation maintenance officer in Virginia Beach, Va., and mother to 14-year-old Lizzy and 10-year-old Clay.

Breidenbach initially wanted to create a fund for military students like herself, but as she considered how to structure her gift, she discovered a large number of assistance programs for veterans and a scarcity of options for students in the single-parent category. “Being a parent is the scariest thing on earth because you never know if you’re doing it right,”  Breidenbach said. “But helping a fellow Aggie in this way shows them that they have the support of those who came before them. I believe 100 percent in their dream and ability to make a better life for their child.”

Breidenbach created a living trust that allows her to plan for the next generation. Her decision to create a planned gift through the Texas A&M Foundation, motivated in part by a breast cancer diagnosis, will help others who struggle to balance parenthood with student life. “As a breast cancer survivor, I can say with complete confidence that it’s never too early to plan. My diagnosis merely spurred me to act on what I’d been meaning to do for some time.”


Breidenbach’s gift comes in tandem with a commitment from the namesake of the Becky Gates Children’s Center. Becky Gates and her husband, former Texas A&M President Robert Gates, recently included a $1.5 million planned gift in their estate plans to support the center. “I continued to work full time after I had my kids, so I was lucky to have a reliable babysitter and a good child care center when they turned 3,” Gates said. “If you are a working mom, knowing that your child is healthy and has reliable, competent daycare and schools is so important.” A portion of the Gates’ gift will go toward professional development for center employees, such as conferences and workshops that will provide teachers with networking and mentoring opportunities. The funds will also be used to purchase teaching materials, especially in the areas of math and science.