Ricky Gordon, ’91 ’20, established the Ricky and Christian Joelle Gordon Endowed Diversity Scholarship in 2006 to support diverse students at EKU. Since the creation of the fund, he has made a gift to the scholarship annually. As 2021 approached, Gordon realized he had been giving 15 consecutive years and wanted to recognize the milestone by giving 15 additional scholarships to minority students pursuing their degrees.
“Wow, we’re going on 15 years; I said ‘Let’s make it happen,’” Gordon remarked. As a compliance security and risk manager for Google’s Cloud division, his gifts are matched dollar-for-dollar through Google’s matching gift program. Between Gordon’s recent gift to the university and the existing funds in the scholarship endowment, $15,000 will go toward the Ricky and Christian Joelle Gordon Endowed Diversity Scholarship. Awards of $500 to $1,000 will be awarded to 15 diverse students for the 2021-22 academic year.
Jada Clayton received the 2020-21 scholarship award. “As a young AfricanAmerican woman from the west end of Louisville, Kentucky, it is not often that I am offered an opportunity to continue my progress in college,” said Clayton, an elementary education major. “EKU has provided me with multiple opportunities to expand and develop my professionalism. I am thrilled to see what the future holds for me at Eastern.” With plans to graduate in 2022, the Ricky and Christian Joelle Gordon Endowed Diversity Scholarship is helping Clayton achieve her dream of becoming a teacher and working with kids.
Gordon felt blessed to receive scholarships helping to fund his education at Eastern, but he realized not everyone was as fortunate. “Whenever I got into corporate, I wanted to be able to give back to students and help them with their pursuit of education,” Gordon said. “I didn’t want finances to be an issue for students.”
He was first inspired to give because of a program called Bucks for Brains. At the time, the state of Kentucky would match donations to Kentucky public universities. He donated his bonus to EKU, and it was doubled through the match. Gordon said he felt strongly about helping diverse students at EKU, because many times they might not come back the next semester due to a lack of financial aid or family financial issues. When his son, Joelle, passed away unexpectedly in an accident, Gordon honored his memory, adding his name to the scholarship and contributing what he had set aside originally as Joelle’s college fund.
To be considered for the Ricky and Christian Joelle Gordon Endowed Diversity Scholarship, students must submit an essay with their online scholarship application to the EKU Development Office and meet a GPA requirement. Ultimately, Gordon hopes the scholarship inspires students to give back.
“I want them to associate the scholarship with their success and the fact that they should give back to EKU – to diverse students, or just to Eastern,” Gordon said. “I found that we can all give. Pennies add to nickels, nickels add to dimes, and quarters, and dollars. When you put them all together, it adds up to an amount you can give.”
Gordon was a non-traditional student at EKU, having previously served in the U.S. Army. While a student, Gordon was part of ROTC, the Black Student Union and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He referenced a quote from Martin Luther King Jr., a fraternity brother of Alpha Phi Alpha, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
“I love that,” Gordon said. “When you can tie your direct success to an institution like EKU, the question is, ‘What am I doing to give back?’”
Gordon stays involved with EKU as an alumnus in more ways than just giving. “I haven’t been a stranger to Eastern,” he said. Gordon believes in giving back through time, talent and treasures. “I’m giving back in all of those areas with Eastern, and I’ll continue to do that.”
Students interested in applying for the Ricky and Christian Joelle Gordon Endowed Diversity Scholarship should visit https://success.eku.edu/register/sch_landing, or contact the Scholarship Office at 859-622-2019.