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For Pam (Lolley) Frey ('80), there is a practical element to supporting students at the Wake Forest School of Divinity, even beyond the heartwarming letters she receives from scholarship recipients.
"We want to assist Divinity School students with being free to focus on their calling and career versus worrying about a postgraduation debt load," Frey said. "I'm a banker. I understand the challenges of holding too much debt. Although mitigating long-term financial burdens is the primary purpose of the scholarship, it is also satisfying to be able to honor my parents by having it bear their names."
The Randall and Lou Lolley Fund is in its second academic year of service. To understand the Lolley Fund, you must first know the family's ties to Wake Forest both to the town and to the University.
Frey grew up in Winston-Salem when her father, Randall Lolley, was pastor of First Baptist Church. She attended Reynolds High School in addition to graduating from Wake Forest. From 1974 to 1988, Randall Lolley was president of Southeastern Theological Seminary, the institution that replaced Wake Forest College on what the University now terms the Old Campus. When Wake Forest University began serious discussions about creating its own Divinity School, Dr. Lolley lent his insights to the School's founding dean, Bill Leonard, a longtime friend.
"I followed the birth of the Divinity School all along the way," Frey said. "Dad was involved in some of the early conversations including how to honor Wake's Baptist heritage yet ensure the School was ecumenical and therefore stronger." After graduation, Frey began a now 30-year career in banking in which she has served as president of various geographic regions in Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. She currently works for CommunityOne Bank in Charlotte as head of retail banking.
Frey's experience built a knowledge base that helped her specify the ways in which she wanted to make a difference. One way is through a gift annuity, which is a donation to Wake Forest in exchange for which the donor receives a fixed annual dollar amount for life. The principal remaining at the time of death benefits any University program of the donor's choosing. Frey has also named the University as a beneficiary of her retirement account.
When Frey decided to provide a planned gift to Wake Forest, she did so "to give back to the school that has meant so much to my parents and in the town that meant so much to us all."
In 2011, Frey and her sister, Charlotte Murphy, along with their husbands, Mike Frey and Pat Murphy, established the Randall and Lou Lolley Fund. The 2013-14 recipients of the scholarship are Daniel Thomas Potter of Chapel Hill and Larry Jerome Brown of Winston-Salem. Both are first-year Divinity students.
Chris Hughes has a good idea of what he'll be doing in five years. He has even greater clarity about what facilitated his vision in the first place.
"For me, the School of Divinity at Wake Forest and its identity were enough to get me to want to come, but the financial aid piece was what made me feel it was the right place for me to go," said Hughes, a 2013 graduate and now a youth minister in Winston-Salem.
And for him, a critical element was the assistance he received from the Randall and Lou Lolley Fund in 2012-13. As an undergraduate, Hughes was active in the Baptist Campus Ministry, and he gravitated to Wake Forest when seeking a divinity degree program. Thanks to interactions with, among others, founding faculty members Bill Leonard and James Dunn, Chris gained the knowledge and skills necessary to be a faith leader.
"It was both the University's Baptist heritage and the School of Divinity's ecumenical outlook that drew me to Wake Forest," he said. "I am a Baptist, and I think I came out a better Baptist and a better ecumenist."
Hughes embraced extracurricular involvement particularly a student group that examines the relationship between ecology and theology. "I came in with a lot of concern for the environment and a desire to explore that," he said. "I learned a lot through the things they experienced as a group. It surrounded me with peers who made me a better ecological citizen of the world."
He was also a writer and editor for The Tablet, the School of Divinity's own newspaper. As for specific events, one of the undeniable highlights was the chance to meet the Lolley family at a luncheon and reception. In the process, he was able to express his gratitude for a grant that allows him to focus on helping his community and the planet rather than worrying about the demands of excessive debt.
"That (meeting) was a capstone for me as far as the scholarship was concerned," Hughes said. "That was a really good experience." Together, his various Wake Forest experiences have helped Hughes gain knowledge that will strengthen his work in the church and as a pastor for years to come.
"I'm really interested in getting to a place of ministry and starting to incorporate a concern for the environment," he said. "What are some initiatives we can start? Maybe it's a garden or a bike program or a healthy meals program. I want to see how all of these things that were stirred up in me at the School of Divinity can connect with the church."
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