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Ronda Stryker: The Heart of a Benefactor

Ronda Stryker: The Heart of a Benefactor

As a devoted trustee and longtime friend of Spelman College, Ronda Stryker is as passionate about giving to the College as many of its alumnae. Inspired by a keynote address delivered by President Emeritus Johnnetta B. Cole in the mid 90s, Ms. Stryker later accepted an invitation from President Cole to travel from her Kalamazoo, Mi., hometown, where she was deeply involved in several women-centered community service projects, to visit the Spelman campus.

"It's difficult to explain the feeling I had when I first set foot on the Spelman campus, says Ms. Stryker. "All I can say is it felt comfortable... like coming home. There was an immediate emotional connection I had with this college because of its commitment to the education of women. It's something I felt then and still feel today, each and every time I have the opportunity to visit."

Long before Ms. Stryker graciously accepted Spelman's invitation to join the Board of Trustees in 1997, she began to create a remarkable legacy of philanthropic support to the College. Beginning with a major contribution to the last capital campaign, her gift was also one of the first and most generous private donations made to the "Revival of the Spirit" campaign that successfully raised funds for the renovation of Sisters Chapel.

As the daughter of the late Dr. Home Stryker, an orthopedic surgeon and founder of the Stryker Corporation—a worldwide leader in the medical device industry—Ms. Stryker is currently listed in Forbes magazine as one the nation's wealthiest Americans. Yet, the capacity of her heart is far greater than that of her financial resources.

Over the years, she has continued to make other gifts to Spelman, while flying quietly "under the radar" with direct support to individual students whose financial burdens became too heavy for them to bear alone. Most recently, Ms. Stryker made the College aware that she also has included Spelman in her estate plans.

With two degrees in special education—an undergraduate degree from the University North Colorado and a master's degree from Western Michigan University—Ms. Stryker's academic background and life's work are the foundation upon which her caring, compassionate and philanthropic sprit stands in support of education, women and Spelman College.