At a surprise family gathering on October 3, the Goodwin College Academic Success Center was named in honor of Esther Furr Ellis, mother of Dr. Maria Ellis, board of trustees president and a longtime friend of the College. The tribute was made possible through a generous gift of support from Dr. Ellis, her partner, Kimberly McDonald, and her two brothers.
The Esther Furr Ellis, M. Ed. Academic Success Center (ASC) is a vital resource at the College, where students gather for tutoring, advice, and support. Goodwin president Mark Scheinberg feels that the naming of the Center is a perfect recognition of Esther’s passion for education and dedication to her family. “The Academic Success Center is a place where students of all ages, abilities, and aspirations can come to work hard to make their academic and career dreams a reality,” he stated at the event.
Esther attended Lowell Teacher’s College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in music along with her teaching certificate. Following graduation, she began her career in the East Hartford public school system.
She made sacrifices and faced challenges so that her three children — Stephen, Maria, and David — would understand and believe in the power of education. She took on evening, weekend, and summer jobs to ensure she had the resources necessary to support her family and help them realize their dreams. As her children got older and began advancing in their respective fields, she returned to school herself.
In 1990, two weeks before her daughter graduated from medical school, Esther earned a master’s degree in education. Although retired as an assistant principal, Esther is still active in teaching today.
When working with students, ASC Coordinator Surbhi Patel uses Esther as an example of inspiration and perseverance. “We want to help students proactively and give them the support they need,” Patel stated. “I’ve been sharing her success story.”
Dr. Ellis’s appreciation and love for her mother inspired her to dedicate this gift in her name, remarking at the presentation, “When you were my age you had three kids and three jobs. Because you did that, I didn’t have to.”
Esther’s genuine shock and gratitude were evident. “I am so thrilled and honored I can hardly speak,” she said with tears in her eyes. “As long as you keep believing and working hard, it will pay off. Never give up.”
The Esther Furr Ellis, M. Ed. Academic Success Center now stands as a testament to one woman’s determination and willpower. Esther’s story will serve as a source of inspiration and hope.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.