Colgate Retires with a Gift
When the Advanced Academy first opened its doors, Susan Colgate was just finishing up her master’s degree in psychology and worked as a graduate research assistant. When the Academy opened in 1996, Susan worked there part time. Although her ambitions were to open her own business as a therapist, she was so taken with the Academy’s mission, she accepted a full time position as a student development specialist after receiving her degree in 1997.
Susan Colgate makes friends with a parrot last spring at Callaway Gardens as Advanced Academy student Shayna Jackson looks on. Susan presented at a gifted children conference at Callaway with former and current Academy students.
Thirteen years later after taking on a wide range of positions including director, Susan again aspires to open her own business. This time, not as a therapist, but leaning on her experiences at UWG, as a counselor for college-bound high school students.
She’ll leave a small legacy behind at the Academy thanks to one of her fans. Fans, you may ask? Yes, like any other teachers of life, Susan has touched the hearts and souls of many of the 600 or so students who have enrolled in the Academy.
One of them is Ben James, an alumnus of the Academy and a recent graduate of Georgia Tech. He took Susan out for pizza as a farewell gesture and bequeathed her and the Academy a gift of $1,000.
“I am kind of an Academy fan,” he admitted. “And I wanted to honor Susan with the $1,000. The catch is she has to decide what to do with it.”
Susan is not certain how she’ll dedicate those funds but has a general idea.
“I was incredibly surprised, honored and grateful when Ben told me about his intention to donate money in my name—I was speechless,” Susan said.
“We are leaning toward using Ben’s donation as a springboard to encourage further giving among Academy alumni. We have always believed that the Academy is an opportunity that should be available to students regardless of family income.
"Fully one-third of our students have come from low-income families, and one of the things I am most proud of is that throughout the Academy’s history, no student accepted into the Academy has not been able to attend because of a lack of funds. This is a tradition that I hope will continue.”
Ben, who recently graduated with honors from Tech and is job hunting at the moment, keeps in touch with fellow Academy graduates and visits the campus several times a year. His support comes from a true admiration for UWG and the Academy.
“You could always tell that Susan and the others who worked at the Academy were very passionate about what they were doing,” said Ben. “You could tell she really cared about us. It always shined through. She really dedicated her life to the Academy.
“I guess I donated the money to thank her and so she would see how much impact she’s had on our lives.”
Ben said his inspiration for the monetary gift came from a friend and former Academy classmate, Vishal Amin. Every year, Amin donates $20.05 to the Academy to mark his graduation date of 2005.
Susan, a Carrollton resident, will still be seen around town, especially the first week of her retirement.
“I was really looking forward to that first Monday morning of my retirement when I wouldn’t have to use an alarm clock and could sleep in,” Susan said. “But, I now I learned I have jury duty. So, there goes my Monday.”
A retirement party is scheduled on Friday, January 29, 1 to 3 p.m. in the Executive Dining Hall. The campus community is invited to attend the celebration.
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