Why We Give – Jim ’93 and Sharon (Murphy) Duncan ’91

“From this vantage point, we can look back and appreciate how our academic, social and spiritual needs were nurtured at KWC. We are grateful for the investments others made to help us and trust our gifts will ‘pay it forward’ for the next generation.”

Jim-Biology major at KWC, completed M.D. at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, then completed residency at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Sharon-Psychology major at KWC, completed master’s in management from St. Mary University of Minnesota.

Interesting career facts
Jim was able to use his medical training to provide services on a mission trip to Venezuela several years ago. This experience inspired him to start a travel medicine clinic to provide immunizations and medical advice for folks traveling abroad.

Sharon developed an interest in arts after taking painting and sculpture classes at KWC. She sold her jewelry and glass-craft in local stores in the early 2000s.

Why did you choose KWC?
Sharon: “My dad was a United Methodist deacon (diaconal minister) and several church friends had attended KWC. A scholarship was available for dependents of United Methodist ministers, and combined with a merit scholarship, KWC was an affordable option. I knew I wanted a small school, and my visits to KWC felt ‘like home.’”

Jim: “I had actually planned to go to a different out-of-state school, but was awarded the Brown Scholarship, making KWC a contender. So both of us were able to attend KWC because of scholarship opportunities.”

How did you meet?
“We became friends by virtue of being at a small college with mutual friends. Jim was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity, and Sharon was a ‘li’l sis.’ After a year of getting to know each other and developing mutual fondness and respect, we realized that we really enjoyed spending time together and things developed from there.”

Who influenced you while you were here and helped you become the people you are today?
Jim: “Professors Kingsolver and Davenport taught me that biology and scientific concepts are not just lab experiences. They taught me to more deeply understand and appreciate the physical world where I live and work and play.”

Sharon: “Professor Mike Fagan encouraged me in academics and leadership. In terms of psychology, he impressed upon me the importance of meeting people where they are, without judgment. You never know what someone is dealing with under the surface. This is a concept that applies to all interactions, not just a clinical psychology setting. It reminds me to try to approach life with humility and grace. Mrs. Minton (residence hall director for Kendall Hall and Fraternity Men’s Dormitory) was also a ‘mom-type’ who had a way of making me feel special. The memory of her makes me smile.”

What are other special memories of KWC?
“So many great friends! Most memories are not of specific events, but just hanging out with friends in dorm rooms, campus spaces and the occasional corn field! Anyone remember the earthquake party? Some notable activities were playing spades in the Sigma Nu lobby, Boiler Room, Greek Olympics, intramurals (Jim was the racquetball champ), formals . . . the list goes on! We also enjoyed living in the Owensboro community. In fact, our first date was taking a pizza to the airport to watch the planes. Jim was very creative! Our first kiss was on the dock at the Executive Inn (We ‘may’ have climbed a fence to get out to the dock).

“We have two college-age children. Anna, 22, graduated from Wofford College and will start medical school at the University of Louisville in the fall 2021 term.  Luke, 21, will be a senior at Centre College, where he is studying economics and finance.

“Our favorite getaways are usually nature-focused: fly fishing, kayaking, boating, hiking and of course, playing at the beach. Jim also enjoys projects on our farm including restoring native grass habitat, renovating an old barn and his new venture – tending to bee hives.”