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Spirit is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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The Legacy

All Roads Lead to Home

Before John West ’87 launched his career in management consulting, which eventually took him across the country and even overseas, he found his niche for business as an undergraduate at Texas A&M University. After graduating and landing his first job in Houston, he soon moved from California to Tennessee, then to Georgia, Minnesota and finally, Virginia. Before his final stop in Virginia, however, John managed a team of consultants in India for a few years—making several trips across the globe that left a major impression on him.

John West '87 and his wife, Kari Lervick, created a study abroad scholarship for students participating in Texas A&M's Reciprocal Education Exchange Program. Their gift will support Aggies as they gain a better understanding of the role of global citizenship in the world today. 

“My time in India highlighted the importance of global citizenship,” he said. “In today’s world of integrated financial markets, supply chains and economies, we’re all global citizens, and we really need to live accordingly.”  

That realization led John and his wife, Kari Lervick, to create an endowed scholarship in 2017 using matching funds to support students participating in Texas A&M’s Reciprocal Education Exchange Program. This program allows Aggies to take classes directly from a foreign partner institution, giving them a truly immersive experience. “We hope students use this scholarship to gain an understanding of cultures different from their own and acquire the skills necessary to accomplish their goals in an increasingly connected world,” Kari said.

After 28 years of traveling, a family trip back to College Station last year reminded John of why he chose to attend Texas A&M. As he took in all the campus changes, he still found the same Aggie Spirit that captivated him so many years ago. “I felt a deep sense of nostalgia and pride while showing Kari and my youngest son around campus,” he said. “My family heard me talk about my memories of Texas A&M for years, but they had never seen the university. We loved every minute of our visit.”
 

Dual-Gifts Maximize Impact

Establishing a planned gift to supplement a cash gift, like John and Kari, allows you to increase your impact in a way that outlasts your lifetime. Not only will you see your generosity take effect with your current gift, but you can also rest assured that your legacy will continue to grow in the years after your life, doubling the reach of your generosity.  

You can utilize several different giving methods to create the gift package that best suits your needs. Creating a bequest through your will or trust is one of the easiest ways to make a planned gift. You can gift a percentage of your estate, a specific asset, or the balance or residue of your estate. In addition to supporting Texas A&M, bequests allow you to retain assets during your lifetime and lessen the burden of taxes on your family.

With Aggieland fresh on their minds, the couple decided to create a gift in their estate plans that will supplement their current gift for study abroad scholarships. In addition to seeing their generosity take effect now, they know their planned gift will continue to support students’ experiences abroad after their lifetimes.

Through their gifts, John and Kari are helping Texas A&M remain the No. 1 public university in the nation for the number of students studying abroad, according to the Institute of International Education. “We strive to be leaders in providing accessible, flexible and quality education abroad experiences to our students,” said Holly Hudson, Texas A&M’s executive director for study abroad programs. “Study abroad exposes participants to diverse cultures, environments and people. Learning how to appreciate diversity is critical for our country and for future leadership.”

With his career experiences behind him, John now spends time with family, volunteering in his community and coaching his daughter’s softball team. He and Kari hope that their gifts broaden student perspectives and help Aggies build community wherever they go. “Learning how to listen to people with empathy while respecting their opinions builds trust, which is the key to strong relationships, both professional and personal,” John added. “Being able to work with people who are different than us is vital as we continue to move toward a global society.”

To learn more about planned giving and how it can benefit you, your family and Texas A&M, contact Glenn Pittsford ’72 (below) at gpittsford@txamfoundation.com or (800) 392-3310. To learn more about creating a study abroad scholarship gift for Aggie students, contact Marcy Ullmann '86 at mullmann@txamfoundation.com or (979) 845-6383.

Contact:

Glenn Pittsford '72

Vice President for Gift Planning
Office of Gift Planning