An Akron native and North High School graduate, Ron Andrea found himself enrolled at The University of Akron in the fall of 1964, an eager but apprehensive freshman with more than books and exams on his mind.
Neither of his parents had graduated high school and they were unable to help him financially. The youngest of three children, Andrea was the first in his family to attend college at a time when kids like him didn’t usually have higher education in their futures.
Andrea says his parents wanted him to get a factory job, but he knew that was not the life he wanted for himself. He recalls riding with his mother to pick up his father from his factory job at Goodrich, vividly remembering the green painted windows, the acrid smell of rubber, the deafening machinery noise and the grit and grime on his dad’s face and clothes.
“I knew I wanted something else,” Andrea recalls.
Andrea declined a job as a tire builder that his dad had arranged, instead deciding to attend The University of Akron.
Andrea’s savings from part-time and summer jobs during high school got him started freshman year, but the prospect of covering four years of tuition, books and fees through part-time jobs seemed overwhelming. Fortunately, Andrea received a small scholarship during his sophomore year that eased his financial burden.
“That scholarship, though small, helped me not only to graduate but also to graduate in a timely manner, because I couldn’t afford not to do so,” Andrea says. ”I didn’t have the resources to take courses over or pay for an extra semester of school.”
Andrea earned his bachelor’s degree in education in 1968 and his master’s degree in school psychology in 1971, both from The University of Akron. He earned his Ph.D. in 1979 from the State University of New York at Buffalo after working several years as a New York school psychologist.
Andrea and his wife, Pat, have two adult sons and four grandchildren. After a successful professional career, he and his wife retired to Tucson, Arizona, in 2003 where they are active in community theater and volunteer work.
“Those four years at The University of Akron changed my life,” Andrea recalls. “They opened up new horizons for me. They made me realize I could do anything I wanted to do and that I could have the kind of life I never thought possible.”
Reflecting upon those times at UA led Andrea and his wife to include a bequest to The University of Akron Foundation in their estate plans, supporting The Dr. Ronald K. Andrea Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship will assist highly motivated first-generation college students.
“It’s my hope that this scholarship will have the same impact on many future students that my scholarship had on me,” Andrea says. “I like to think of it as a gift that will reap benefits for others long after I’m gone.”
While Ron Andrea’s experience as a first-generation college student took place several decades ago, this is a familiar story for many UA students. The Andreas’ investment in the success of these students will help them to achieve their goal of becoming the first in their families to earn a college degree.