A new scholarship fund, endowed with a $200,000 gift from Hobart graduate William Prather ’71, will support a student from an underserved community pursuing an English major at HWS.
Prather, who himself majored in English, recalls a “well-rounded education” at the Colleges, an experience that “helped me broaden my overall thinking processes.”
“The four years I spent at Hobart and William Smith were some of the best four years of my life,” he explains. “Having come from a high school where I was the only minority, it wasn’t a different experience for me but probably was for lots of the other kids at the Colleges at the time. As much as I could make an impact on other people, I wanted make sure that diversity was recognized and noticed as a good thing. I would hope that recipients of the scholarship get to learn about people of different diversities and how to open up to all different kinds of people.”
Raised in Irvington, N.J., Prather played football and baseball for the Statesmen (and led the baseball team in hitting his junior and senior year). After graduation, he taught ninth grade in his hometown before embarking on a career in retail management. After more than 20 years at Sears and Bob’s Stores, Prather took a career aptitude course that suggested financial planning was the best fit.
“It was the last thing I thought I was suited for, but I interviewed with American Express, and they said, ‘You’d be great for this,’” he recalls.
Still with the company, which rebranded its financial services arm as Ameriprise, Prather spends his days “making sure clients’ retirement, education, family planning and short- and long-term goals are in balance. It’s satisfying to see those goals are being met. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed.”
As a financial planner, Prather says he realized “that I won’t use most of the money I have, so I wanted to pass it on — so it can do something good for other people.”
Ultimately, he says, “I just wanted to give back to the Colleges that built a foundation in me and have served me so well.”
Prather’s gift was made through The Wheeler Society, which recognizes individuals and families who have established a planned gift in support of the Colleges. Since it was established in 1989, The Wheeler Society has welcomed more than 1,000 alumni, alumnae, parents and friends who have invested in the Colleges as they have their own families. Their gifts — both modest and large — have reshaped the Colleges and their future. For more information about The Wheeler Society and how to give, contact Steve Caraher, senior associate vice president for Advancement, at (315) 781-3776