Alumna plans for estate gift to provide student emergency assistance

January 21, 2020

Penn State alumna Gail Ketch, 1976 Health and Human Development, remembers the feeling of being an undergraduate student struggling financially to finish the semester, which prompted her to include a provision in her estate plans to establish the Gail L. Ketch Emergency Assistance Fund for students in the School of Hospitality Management.

Ketch’s endowment, which will become active when her estate commitment of $25,000 is realized after her death, will generate annual earnings that can be used by the school to help students who face personal financial emergencies that may threaten their ability to continue at the University. Help with rent, travel expenses, books for course work, or mental health services are examples of how this fund will help students.

Gail Ketch

Gail Ketch

IMAGE: Gail Ketch

“Many students are faced with unexpected and urgent costs during their college career and may not have anywhere to turn. Thanks to Gail’s thoughtful planning, the school will have resources to assist future students facing a crisis moment in their college experience. I am very grateful for her commitment, and I know future leaders of the school will be as well,” said Donna Quadri-Felitti, associate professor and Marvin Ashner Director of the School of Hospitality Management.

Ketch, a New Jersey native, chose Penn State for its highly regarded hospitality degree. She started college on firm financial footing, but during sophomore year her mother’s health declined suddenly, and her mother was no longer able to work. With this event, the family’s financial situation changed dramatically. Gail had scholarships, student loans, and money from a summer job, but as the school year wore on she found herself counting every penny. The cost of a textbook or doctor appointment was enough to break the bank. Thanks to friends who helped each other, she finished the semester and was able to cover bus fare home.

After graduating with her degree in food service and housing administration, Ketch worked in the hospitality sector before changing course professionally and moving to Florida, where she has enjoyed a rewarding career as a financial practice administrator. She used a lot of what she learned at Penn State, however, during the 15 years when she owned and operated her own event production business. She credits the hospitality curriculum with preparing her to succeed with that venture.

Ketch said she feels passionately about helping students who are close to the finish line but need a little help to get through a tough time. She hopes that this fund will help students stay on top of their school work and get as much out of their college career as possible.

“My Penn State degree and my experiences as a student prepared me for a rewarding career, but making ends meet was challenging. I remember how stressful that can be and hope this emergency fund will be a resource for students in crisis,” Ketch said. “I hope it prevents a student from having their dreams derailed.”

Gifts like the Gail L. Ketch Emergency Fund have been essential to the success of the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve the public good. To fulfill that mission for a new era of rapid change and global connections, "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence" is focused on the three key imperatives of a public university. Private support will keep the doors to higher education open and enable students to graduate on time and on track to success; create transformative experiences on Penn State campuses and around the globe that tap the full potential of Penn Staters to make a difference; and impact the world through discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Last Updated January 21, 2020