KCAD President's Family Introduces The Bette Patrick and Thelma McCrackin Memorial Scholarship

Posted March 17, 2022 in Alumni, Giving

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) is pleased to announce The Bette Patrick and Thelma McCrackin Memorial Scholarship, endowed by President Tara McCrackin and her husband John McCrackin in honor of their mothers, Bette Patrick and Thelma McCrackin. 

Created in June 2021, this endowed scholarship is anticipated to be available to students for the 2025/2026 academic year. To be eligible for the award, an applicant must be a full- or part-time undergraduate student enrolled in KCAD, with a minimum GPA of 2.5. Applicants must also submit a 400- to 500-word essay demonstrating how they serve or aspire to serve as a leader in their chosen design or fine arts discipline. This may include how their leadership benefits the environment or people locally, regionally, or beyond, and applicants should demonstrate a passion for this work and recognize the value of their efforts in their response. The award is renewable for up to three years as long as the student continues to meet the criteria. 

“KCAD is an enduring part of my identity,” says President McCrackin. “I am a Kendall alumna, I started teaching here in the early 2000s, and am now in a position where we can give back and create this scholarship in perpetuity. I’m really honored to have this platform to make change for an institution I care passionately about. This is one way I can give back and support students.” 

KCAD President Tara McCrackin with her parents and grandparents standing in front of her gallery of work at KCAD's Class of '97 Graduation.President McCrackin ('97, BFA Interior Design) attending her KCAD graduation with her mother, Bette Patrick, father, and grandparents.

Asked why they chose to honor their mothers through this award, John says, “Our mothers were the wind under our wings. My mother was a Depression Era kid. The primary goal was to put food on the table when she was growing up.” 

Tara adds, “Without the support of these women, we wouldn’t be in in the roles we are today. Our parents focused on providing our education.  It is because of this focus, and the support from both my mother and mother-in-law, that we are able to give back and support future students in their educational journeys. 

The McCrackins chose to focus the award on student leadership in areas like sustainability, social justice, the environment, and other critical issues the world faces today. Whether they are leading in the KCAD community, a student group, their home communities, or the community at large, Tara says, “Leaders amplify their own voices and the voices of others. They’re passionate, and they create change. That’s what we want to encourage.” 

While many other scholarships require a student to earn a grade point average of at least 3.0, the McCrackins purposely set their requirement at 2.5. “What we wanted was to not create a barrier,” explains President McCrackin. Instead, her goal was to attract a large pool of student leaders and give them the opportunity to be recognized. 

President Tara McCrackin talking with KCAD Interior Design students.President McCrackin sharing feedback and support for students in KCAD's Interior Design program.

John said the decision was also informed by an experience recruiting interns early in his career. After interviewing eight or nine candidates, his coworker asked if he thought any of them stood out. “I suggested one whose GPA was high, but he pointed to another candidate who was working 20 to 30 hours a week and carrying 17 credits. This person was someone who had a schedule and while not earning a 4.0, was balancing commitments and managing time. That made a lot of sense to me.” 

The McCrackins are eager to begin a new tradition of honoring their mothers by supporting the next generation of student leaders at KCAD. “This college is part of the fabric of Grand Rapids,” says John. “We want to see the institution grow, and this is our way to contribute.” 

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