Ronald Newton (B.S. ’96) believes in consistent hard work and in supporting his community.
Newton grew up in the South in a family of 10 children, and was encouraged by his parents to give back. A donor to the School of Computing and Engineering since 2006, Newton recently established the Oscar and Susie Newton Memorial Scholarship at the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering in honor of his parents, who set an example of the importance of philanthropy.
“We went to a poor Southern Baptist church in rural Georgia as kids,” Newton remembers. “Our parents always gave us a quarter to contribute to the collection.”
As an adult, Newton joined a church that emphasized service. This reinforced his commitment to support organizations that had helped him. He felt it was important to do what he could in a steady way.
“You have to take it as you go,” says Newman. “It’s like savings. Sometimes people don’t think they make enough to save anything worthwhile, but even small amounts add up. It’s the same thing with giving.”
In high school Newton was interested in the Air Force Academy as a way to serve and then further his education. He admired the crop duster on Oakland Plantation in Georgia where his father was a tenant farmer, and thought the Air Force would be a great way to learn to fly, see the world and get an education. But his less-than-perfect eyesight precluded those dreams.
Instead, Newton went to Georgia Tech for two years on a scholarship before joining the United States Marine Corps. He was based in Kansas City when he completed his service, and he enrolled in UMKC to finish his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science.
“My mother had an eighth grade education, and my father attended school through the third or fourth grade,” Newton says. “But I have great memories of my parents. We didn’t have to work after school. We were able to be kids and have adventures. We weren’t going to soccer practice. We ran around and figured out what we wanted to do.”
Of the 10 children in his family, five have received college degrees and three continued on to post-secondary training. He hopes his scholarship, which will be paid out over five years, will make a difference for a student in need.
“None of us gets very far without help,” he says. “A lot of people have the desire, but not the means. You need to have people support you.”