By Callie Ewing, BA ’03 MH ’22
Estelle (Tovar) Lara, BA ’67 MA ’74, has observed the impact of education in her own children’s lives and feels that the only way to make a lasting difference for other people is through education. As a public school teacher, she saw the difficult situations some of her students and their families were in, and she knew that only through a strong education would these children be able to lift themselves beyond those challenges in a significant way.
Therefore, about 10 years ago, she sat down with her financial advisor and wrote the University of Dallas into her estate plan, making her a member of UD’s Legacy Society, which recognizes the generosity and foresight of those who are securing UD’s future through planned gifts.
“I loved going to school here,” said Lara of the university. “I felt it was an honor.” As the oldest of five, she was the first in her family to graduate from college. Her parents had instilled in her and her siblings a love for education.
Lara chose UD over other, farther-away schools such at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, because she wasn’t sure she could face the cold weather there. Her counselor at Ursuline Academy of Dallas recommended UD, which was close to home, and she could still live in the residence halls all four years. She felt that living on campus was the “best decision ever – I went through all the dorms, with nuns as proctors. I had never met so many people from so many different states, especially the South and the Midwest. They were the nicest people ever. I knew everyone on campus.” After her first semester, realizing she needed financial aid and not wanting to ask her parents (who had four other children) for help, she got a loan as well as a work opportunity on campus in the library, which also helped with meeting people.
“UD really tried to find a way for me to stay here,” said Lara. “They didn’t have a lot of money, but they were trying to keep kids here. I was very happy about that and very grateful. I loved the English Department best of all because of Dr. Louise Cowan. I got my teaching certificate, started going summers to pick up education courses, and finished both my education and English degrees.”
All told, Lara taught for about 40 years, mostly elementary school in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and later training teachers and serving on the board for East Grand Preparatory, a charter school in East Dallas. “With two degrees from UD and certifications in ESL, Bilingual Education, and Reading Recovery, I felt well equipped to go out and help both children and teachers,” she said.
“Teaching is hard, especially raising little kids at the same time, but I got a good situation in Carrollton-Farmers Branch; they’re excellent at training teachers,” she added. “If you’re struggling with something, they’ll have someone help you. Always ask for help – don’t try to figure out everything on your own – it’s impossible!”
Lara credits UD with having a great impact on her work ethic: “I became very hard-working because I had to work very hard to get out of here!” she laughed. “My English literature degree taught me to think and to problem solve – it has helped me to bring clarity for the people I worked with. This was always part of my job wherever I was. And I had a lot of other jobs besides teaching, like being a medical secretary a few times. I did not like office jobs as much, but I could do them. A UD education just makes you easier to employ. You don’t necessarily ask to make a difference, but you do make a difference, wherever you go.”
UD also tends to instill a need to make a difference. “A few years ago, I began feeling differently about the future and the schools I loved, so I spoke with my counselor and asked him if I could make some changes on my beneficiary pages,” said Lara. “He came to the house, made the changes on my IRAs, and marked them ‘TOD.’ If you put ‘Transfer On Death’ or ‘TOD,’ it goes straight to the institutions, children and spouse tax free.”
Lara’s gift will go to the Class of 1967 Scholarship established by her class. Others including the university in their estate plans can make similar designations to the funds of their choosing, if they wish.
Lara explained, “I used this planned gift to be the best model I can for my children. I am a hard-working mom, and I have raised hard-working kids. This planning ensures that everything I worked so hard for will continue to have a long-lasting impact.”
She added, “I encourage all alumni to put UD in their estate plans. My UD gift hasn’t excluded my children, my husband or other organizations I support philanthropically, and I’ve been able to specify percentages for each. I’m losing nothing, but gaining the satisfaction of hoping this can make a difference in somebody else’s life.”
If you have already included UD in your estate plans and are interested in joining the Legacy Society, please contact Veronica Moreno at 972-265-5846 or email@example.com. To learn more about planned giving options, please visit plannedgiving.udallas.edu.
In the slideshow photos:
First photo: Estelle (Tovar) Lara, Nolan Stutzman, BA '67, Jim Fougerousse, BA '67, Sharon (Bandy) Kotok, BA '68.
Second photo: Front: Neil Dore, BA '67, Estelle (Tovar) Lara. Back: Jim Fougerousse, Nolan Stutzman, Judy (Harrington) Carter, BA '66, Joe McNally, BA '66 MA '69.