When it came time for Jayne Berry to look for colleges, she and her family knew they were looking for somewhere special. Diagnosed with a learning disability in the 7th grade, Jayne was looking for a school that was the right size and with the right support system to help her succeed.
After considering several options, a recommendation from the Copper family in Shorterville, Ala., led Jayne and her parents Bryan and Liz to a university that met all their criteria. Eight hours from their home in Tampa, Jayne found a home away from home at Troy University.
“School has never been easy for me, but TROY gave me an avenue to be very successful as an adult,” Jayne said. “The adaptative needs programs were a perfect fit for me, and I was able to take advantage of resources that are free of cost to any student.”
Jayne credits her advisor, Allison Hughes with helping her plan her schedule and directing her to resources available to students who need additional academic support, including extra time for tests. In addition, Careers Services Director Lauren Cole helped her develop a career plan, setting her on a path to her current job in insurance in the Birmingham area.
“It was just an amazing program to be in and I don’t think enough students take advantage of those resources,” Jayne said. “I think they are nervous about utilizing some of those things, but I did get the confidence in college to use them. I wasn’t afraid to take a test outside of the classroom because I knew that was the way I had to learn, and it was a better fit for me.”
Today, the Berry family is hoping to help future students take advantage of the community feel and support systems at TROY. The family has recently established a charitable remainder trust that will establish the Berry Family Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide scholarships for students with Adaptive Needs.
“TROY turned out to be an outstanding opportunity for [Jayne],” Bryan said. “We are very fortunate and very blessed and we want to share that. And with this gift that we will give to the University in time, hopefully, it will help others and down the road, they will pay it forward to the next group.”
Bryan worked 40 years as a mechanical contractor in the Tampa area, rising through the ranks right out of high school to eventually become president and co-owner of the business. The company recently sold, and the Berry family was looking for a way to invest those proceeds to meet their goals of both giving back and securing income for their retirement. A charitable remainder trust was the right option, and when considering possible beneficiaries, Liz said TROY and the adaptive needs program seemed like a “no-brainer.”
“We want it to go to this program that shaped her so much and it seemed like a win-win,” Liz said. “Hopefully with this endowment, we can affect students going forward who may be like Jayne, that just need that little push along the way to help them launch.”
Liz recalls the feeling of dropping Jayne off at a campus so many miles from home and in another state. But TROY’s small-town feel compared to larger colleges gave Liz peace of mind.
“If I had a question, you called a number and talked to a live person,” Liz said. “That is huge for any parent sending their kid to college.”
Jayne agreed that TROY’s campus environment makes it easy to get to know your professors, find friends, and get involved. Although initially worried she might be a “fish out of water” coming from Tampa to Troy, Jayne says she quickly got involved in organizations like the Phi Mu sorority and found her footing on campus.
“If you take advantage of how to get involved at TROY, you can set yourself up for success and that’s what I did,” Jayne said.
Bryan said the family is grateful to give back to a university that has meant so much to them.
“I think a big part of what TROY does is provide students confidence,” Bryan said. “Once you have confidence in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do.”
Greg Knedler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Development, said the Berry family’s generosity will have a lasting impact on Troy University.
“Bryan, Liz and Jayne are an outstanding Trojan family with a lot of pride in TROY and their legacy gift will make a positive impact on the lives of many students in the years to come,” Knedler said.
A Charitable Trust, such as the one established by the Berry family, can be a great option for people looking to make a positive impact with an investment while establishing income for retirement, according to Knedler. Find out more about Charitable Trusts or other giving options at troy.edu/give.