Chicago Club endows minority scholarship

For more than 15 years, the Cornell College Club of Chicago (CCCC) has raised money every year to support two scholarships at Cornell. This year, they ensured there would be 20 more.

By raising $25,000, CCCC endowed their scholarship that has been supporting two minority students at $1,000 each. Until now, the club has raised the funds yearly, partially through donations, but mostly through their annual fundraising winter party, which includes silent and live auctions.

The auctions have been a highlight, as any number of items are sold. Cookies from Katrina Garner, Cornell sweatshirts, vacation home packages, and community service hours have all been auctioned.

Among the most sought after items at auction was the chance to throw out the first pitch at a Cubs game, an opportunity arranged by Mike Conklin ’69, who at the time wrote for the Chicago Tribune, whose parent company owned the Cubs. One year, Cornell President Les Garner and Katrina won the Cubs pitch. They gave it to their eldest son, Brantley, for his 18th birthday.

Gene DeRoin ’49 came up with the idea for a minority scholarship at an October 1990 meeting. Char Nelson Renkes ’49 reported that at a meeting the following May, the scholarship committee wondered if it could raise the $1,000 scholarship. One person guaranteed $100; another $50. “Right within the meeting we had $700 pledged,” said Ted Renkes ’50, Char’s husband.

Conklin also credited Ann Carlson ’55 for her role in revitalizing the CCCC in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

“We wanted to do something besides just having parties,” said Ted, who used to head up the scholarship committee with Char. “We wanted a little purpose.’’

That purpose expanded as the years went on, first to a second $1,000 scholarship, and now to an endowment. The group’s next goal is to endow the scholarship at the $50,000 level in order to provide more funds for students.

“Even in these difficult times, Cornell alums have stood up and supported this and made it what it is today,” said Andrea Herrera ’85, CCCC president and alumni board member. “We are very proud of the accomplishment.”

Past recipients of the scholarship include Christopher Wynton ’96, Marissa Dawson ’99, Le’Ora Tyree ’03, Paul Alexander ’04, Jonita Wiley ’07, Andre Rattray ’09, and first year student Regina Williams.

For more information on the scholarship fund or to make a donation in support of the Cornell College Club of Chicago Scholarship, visit