Marilyn Blanton has always held firm to the belief that the way forward is through education.
Her children, including NC State professor Dr. Richard “Larry” Blanton, were always encouraged to seek opportunities to gain knowledge and pursue their passions. Now, having seen her own children to adulthood, she is extending her reach beyond her own family unit to the NC State students who will benefit from her newly established endowment, the Richard L. Blanton University Honors Program (UHP) Capstone Award Endowment. The endowment will provide cash awards to recipients of the annual Richard L. Blanton UHP Capstone Award.
The endowment will benefit students who are preparing for their capstone projects. The capstone experience may well be the most significant of a student’s undergraduate career, signifying the culmination of their academic careers. To successfully complete the capstone project, students must effectively demonstrate in-depth, practical understanding of their major, applying the tools and modes of their fields of study to their project topics. Students are supported by a faculty mentor and upon completion, present their projects publicly.
In addition to establishing this endowment, Blanton provides generous annual support to the Fellowship Advising Office. This past year, this support benefited students participating in undergraduate research opportunities and the University Honors and Shelton Leadership Programs. In the spring, a group of students from these programs participated in a professional development seminar at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Students traveled together from NC State to Asheville, NC. En route, newspapers were distributed to students so that they could familiarize themselves with current events and develop talking points in preparation for a networking reception they would attend that evening at the Biltmore. Participating students gained valuable networking experience with Biltmore executives, including president and CEO William A.V. Cecil, Jr. Dan Heath, author of the New York Times bestseller Switch, was the keynote presenter for the seminar. Six students who otherwise might not have been able to finance the trip were able to attend as a direct result of Blanton’s generosity.
When asked why it was so important that she name the endowment for her son, her response was concise and matter of fact: “Because I love him.” Dr. Blanton’s impact on campus is far-reaching and widely lauded. A member of the campus community and faculty for 13 years, he was the first permanent director of the University Honors Program and has been directly involved with the Fellowship Advising Office for 12 years, working closely with students as they pursue opportunities for advanced study. Participation in such experiences during the undergraduate years also helps to keep students engaged with the university, solidifying their connection to the campus community even after graduation. These students will often continue to support those programs which provided meaningful learning experiences, as alumni.
Marilyn Blanton is quick to acknowledge that she believes education is a key component of achieving success, and she has always supported her children in their pursuit of knowledge. Now, she’s reaching even more students, providing the financial support to help a new generation of students realize their greatest potential.