Lily Eisenthal ’16
Custodial Scholarship Fund
When Pat Flynn began the Custodial Scholarship Fund for Carleton students in 1993, she hoped it would continue past her retirement—but she had no idea it would one day benefit her own granddaughter, Lily Eisenthal ’16.
In fact, Lily hadn’t even been born when Flynn conceived the idea for custodians to help students pay for college. “I’d see the kids at Carleton every day, and it seemed like they lived on ramen noodles,” Flynn says. “So I thought, maybe we can do something to help them.”
Flynn, now retired, proposed her idea at the next union meeting. Instantly, she says, about 25 people raised their hands and said they’d give. After a few months, they had worked out with the college a way for custodians to elect to have money from their paychecks automatically deducted and put into the scholarship fund.
It’s a refreshing reminder, Flynn says, how anyone can make a difference. And that small efforts make a big impact: The first year of the scholarship fund, $500 was awarded to one student. By 2014, the fund had grown to $168,483 and was able to benefit three Carls, including Lily.
“The custodians make this happen, and I think it’s so great,” Lily says. “They make it so I can worry less about money and put more energy toward my Carleton experience.”
A Cinema and Media Studies major, Lily says she initially resisted coming to Carleton because it had been such a part of her family’s history; not only had her grandmother worked here, her parents met on campus when they were both students in the mid-80s. But after she attended the high school summer writing program at Carleton, she realized the community was where she wanted to be after all. Now she couldn’t imagine college anywhere else and cherishes her experiences: studying abroad in Russia, working at the college radio station, and researching silent film star Alla Nazimova for film history class, a paper she hopes to publish.
Lily says she is grateful for her grandmother’s determination. It’s impressive how Flynn’s vision has grown, not only in dollars but also in scope. In 1998, the custodians added an annual bake sale with proceeds going to support the fund, and a few years ago they also began a “Change-a-thon,” to contribute the spare change they find while cleaning vacated rooms. They’ve also sold a cookbook and worked with a local grocery store for donations to further bolster the fund.
“It’s important to stay invested in the students,” says custodian Julie Stoeckel, who co-founded the scholarship with Flynn in 1993. She says she’s pleased the fund has continued for so long—and that her own daughter, Kiersten Stoeckel ’15, was also able to benefit from it.
“I thought it was a wonderful idea from the beginning,” Stoeckel said. “We’re so grateful for the students. They’re the ones we’re here for.”