Dr. Mary Anne Player Leaves Legacy of Giving
Dr. Mary Anne Player was the quintessential teacher – she loved to share knowledge, to motivate students to learn and to mentor them toward success. She found a perfect complement in Phi Theta Kappa, serving the Society as a chapter and alumni advisor and Illinois Regional Coordinator and impacting the lives of thousands of students in her home state and beyond.
Her legacy will live on through the Orlowski Candidate Scholarship, which she created and endowed through a $50,000 legacy when she died in 2011, just months before her 91st birthday.
The Orlowski Candidate Scholarships honor the memory of Steve Orlowski, a member of Theta Omega Chapter at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. Dr. Player was his advisor and mentor, and encouraged him to seek election as a 1986-87 Vice President. Steve was elected but died in office when the leukemia he had battled for years, in remission when he campaigned, returned.
The Orlowski Candidate Award is given to the candidate who best exemplifies the Society Hallmarks of Scholarship, Leadership, Service and Fellowship. The recipient is chosen by vote of the candidates.
"Dr. Player understood the value of the Hallmarks and how they impacted student success," said Phi Theta Kappa Executive Director Dr. Risley, whose friendship with Dr. Player began when he served as National President. In 1977, as Phi Theta Kappa’s Director of Alumni Affairs, he chartered the first community-based alumni chapter, Alpha of Illinois, for which Dr. Player served as advisor.
"The endowment she created to perpetuate the Orlowski Candidate Award will honor Steve and also portray our Hallmarks as the foundations for student success. Dr. Player was passionate about helping students achieve their full potential."
Past recipients of the Orlowski Candidate Scholarship value the recognition for its intrinsic value as well as for its financial assistance.
"I keep the Orlowski Medallion in a prominent place on my desk to serve as a reminder that college education is a privilege not given to everyone," said 2003 recipient Dawneen Banks. "I hope that by accomplishing my dream of receiving a bachelor's degree, and now studying for a master's degree, I am honoring the memory of Steve Orlowski and the generosity of Dr. Player," said Banks, 2003-2004 Division IV International Vice President.
The most recent recipient, Sarah Yates, is currently serving as an International Vice President. "While I was not expecting to win this, knowing about the award made me even more aware that Phi Theta Kappa was looking for leaders who embodied the Hallmarks more than the competition involved in running for office. This knowledge changed how I viewed being a candidate and an International Officer. As candidates, we became a close-knit community, focusing on how we could better serve. That has carried over into my role as an International Officer, of being a servant leader. "It's not about proving you are the best, but doing the best job."
Dr. Player would agree. "I knew Dr. Player over 35 years and I never met a person who was so caring and giving of themselves," said Bob Potratz, a member of Theta Omega Chapter and a former president of Alpha of Illinois. "Through the Orlowski Candidate Award Dr. Player will continue to help future generations of Phi Theta Kappa members."
Billy Wilson grew up wanting to be a member of Phi Theta Kappa — understandable in a household where his mother, Sally, was the Kappa Alpha Chapter advisor, and his father, Ernest, was Dean at Holmes Community College in Mississippi.
Phi Theta Kappa is committed to creating strong, engaged chapters on college campuses across the world, building students who are true servant leaders and scholars dedicated to making their colleges and communities a better place.
Giving Back and Getting More
Rooney’s decision to give goes back to the lives that are changed through connections to Phi Theta Kappa.