A Legacy of Generosity
Few alumni have remained as involved and engaged with Boston College as Esther Chang ’02, JD’07. With a recent, generous bequest intention, the partner at Mayer Brown in Chicago has only deepened her commitment to her alma mater. We sat down with Esther to talk about her passion for Boston College, her experience as an Eagle, and the importance of planned giving.
Having spent the better part of a decade at the Heights pursuing your bachelor’s degree, an unfinished master’s in political science, and your law degree, what role did the University play in your formation as a person and professional?
My education has been one of the most impactful things in my life. It’s opened up so many opportunities for me, and BC was instrumental in absolutely all of that. My Jesuit education was key to figuring out who I wanted to be and what I wanted to pursue in a career and in life.
What do you find special about the University that you want to support?
The culture of helping one another. Every time I see my classmates, I’m reminded of what a great group of people I had the privilege of studying alongside. Having practiced law for sixteen years, I’ve learned there are many things I can go without in a work environment. The quality of people isn’t one of them. My BC experience showed me that. It’s the reason I stayed at BC from undergrad through law school: the people are great.
It’s quite unique to make a bequest at such a young age. Why did you go that route?
It’s important to plan ahead for these things. From a risk allocation and management perspective, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. Of course, I wanted to make sure my mom and my sister would be taken care of, should I predecease them. So I decided to sort out my estate planning earlier rather than later and in a tax-efficient manner.
Moreover, one of the things we should think about is the legacy we want to leave behind. There are a lot of demands in life, but I think it brings out the best of who we can be when we think about not only ourselves and our loved ones, but also those with whom we don’t necessarily have any ties.
What inspired you to make this planned gift supporting financial aid and higher education, specifically?
Part of it is philosophical. When my dad left China in 1948 at the height of the Chinese Civil War, he had to leave everything behind—money, family, inheritance—and make a life for himself. Being immigrants, my parents raised us with the mentality that you should earn what you need in life and be responsible for yourself. But they understood that education is absolutely indispensable in that regard; it’s the most important gift you can give.
I greatly benefited from receiving financial aid to further my education. Without it, BC wouldn’t have been affordable for me. If I have any legacy to leave behind for future generations, it would be the opportunity to receive a great education.
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