A Gift from the Heart

Benay Leff - Gift from the Heart

Ask Benay Leff ’65 why she gives to Utica College, and her response is simple: “Because UC changed my life.”

Her generous gift to the Heritage Society is Leff’s way of honoring the education that transformed the once shy, Long Island-bred teenager into a confident public relations professional. “At UC,” says Leff, “I just emerged.”

Leff arrived at UC during a time when female students were few and far between. With limited housing options for coeds available, Leff spent her freshman year with five other female students in Laurel Cottage, a rented house on the corner of Burrstone and French Roads. To this day, Leff counts those women as some of her closest friends.

Now retired, Leff spent bulk of her career—more than 20 years—working in public relations at Howard Community College in Columbia, M.D. But her career path was set in motion back in 1965 by legendary UC professor Ray Simon. Leff credits Simon with not only helping her secure a fellowship for graduate school at Syracuse University, but also with instilling the confidence needed to succeed in the competitive world of PR. “He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” she says.

By her participation in Planned Giving, Leff hopes to leave a legacy that gives future Pioneers the same life-changing education she experienced at UC—and the memories that keep Leff connected to her alma mater. “I always tell people,” she says, with a laugh, “I may have been raised in the city, but I left my heart in the Mohawk Valley.”

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