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Why I Give: Betsy Paluck Rath '95

Kristina M. Jenkins

For Shipley alumna Betsy Paluck Rath '95, giving back to her alma mater is more than just a generous gesture, it’s practically a way of life.

As a former class agent and current Young Alumni Leader—a part of the Leadership Council, which recognizes Shipley’s most generous Annual Fund donors—Rath has made giving to Shipley a priority for the past 15 years, a considerable deed since she graduated just over 20 years ago.

“I’ve always wanted to make giving to Shipley a regular routine,” says Rath. “That’s just what I believe in—giving back to something that gave me a tremendous amount. And I can’t even begin to list all of the things that Shipley gave me.”

A Shipley student from eighth grade on, Rath’s deep connection to the School stems largely from the close-knit environment that she and her classmates benefitted from.

“There really was such a connection within the School,” says Rath, who recalls that much of her Shipley experience was defined by both the School’s influence and her personal circumstances.

When Rath was just eight years old, before she came to Shipley, her father passed away and her mother raised Rath and her younger brother as a single parent for more than six years.

“My mom raised us as a supermom, working full time,” says Rath. Once at Shipley, the warmth of the community resonated with Rath, and she thrived, connecting with much of the faculty, staff, and her classmates.

“I hate to name names and not name them all! They were all so warm,” Rath says of her Shipley community. Beyond Shipley’s familial culture, Rath also notes that it was the School’s high-level standards that encouraged her to strive for excellence.

“I always felt like I was challenged, and there was always someone there to push me forward. I’m so grateful for what Shipley taught me and the character it helped me build,” she says.

One of the key figures Rath attributes with fostering her driven disposition is Head of School Steve Piltch, who joined Shipley at the same time as Rath and who shared her love of playing squash.

“The sport that I was most passionate about and was a big part of my life was squash—and that was also Dr. Piltch’s sport,” says Rath, who went on to pursue her sport all throughout grade school and continued to play on the varsity team as a freshman at Trinity College.

At Trinity, Rath played squash and focused her academic studies on economics, a major she says was chosen in response to watching her single mother work so hard.

“I have a little bit of survivor instinct in me,” says Rath. “I wanted to find a career path that would always be challenging, but also always be able to provide.”

Thanks to Rath’s efforts, she has enjoyed a long and successful career as an investment banker, 17 years of which was spent with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Nowadays, she feels fortunate to be able to provide for her young family, and has made the choice to send her two boys to private school in her adopted hometown of Boston, largely due to her own experience at Shipley.

“Being in a tight-knit community, I always felt like I was under someone’s wing, and I really wanted to make sure that was what my kids had,” says Rath.

When it was time for Rath to choose a school for her children, she turned back to Shipley for guidance and reached out to Head of School Steve Piltch for assistance with the process. When Rath’s son was accepted into most of the schools where they had applied, Dr. Piltch helped once more with that final decision.

“I kept up the relationship and he genuinely wanted to help. It was wonderful. I will always be thankful to him,” says Rath.

Now that her children are in school, Rath sees an even clearer picture of why alumni and parent giving is crucial to independent and private schools.

“I saw very quickly how important it is for private schools to receive external funding and for alumni to be involved,” she says. “I know there is a financial gap—tuition only pays for so much.”

Rath notes, too, that giving back isn’t solely about money, and giving time or other resources can be just as important. For those able to give financially and increase over time as more funds may be available, Rath recommends giving a comfortable amount that can be matched by a company. “That kind of giving makes an impact and feels easier to do,” says Rath, “and if you give regularly, it’s in your budget and your planning.”

Rath feels fortunate to be able to give back to Shipley, and hopes that her contributions help preserve the School’s resources and the community she benefited from, so it will be there for the next generation.

“The Shipley community is there no matter where you are, whether you’re a student in class, a recent graduate, a 20-year graduate like me, or a parent who has kids there, they are there for you,” says Rath.

This content was originally published in the Fall 2015 Shipley Magazine. Read more from this issue at http://blogs.shipleyschool.org/category/shipleymagazine/fall-2015/.
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The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.