Generations of Generosity
According to research by Blackbaud, a leading philanthropic research institute, the majority of Millennials, Generation X'ers, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists give back. And early research on Generation Z suggests making a difference—philanthropically or otherwise—is essential in their lives and careers.
At UNIBusiness, there is a rich history of giving back. And regardless of what generation each donor comes from, their contributions go a long way toward UNIBusiness’ main mission of ensuring student success in the classroom and the workplace.
A quick turnaround
Hodson, an actuarial assistant at Allstate Insurance, graduated from UNI in 2016 with a degree in finance and actuarial science. Because of scholarships—she was one of the few who received UNI’s Presidential Scholarship—and a fund her grandfather left for her, Hodson graduated without debt.
She still worked a job while in school, but that was because she wanted to boost her work ethic and have some extra spending money.
“It made me appreciate the money given to me,” Hodson said. “I think people just see scholarship money as just money from the school, but it went a long way for me. It was great to see everyone working together and helping me get across that finish line.”
Now Hodson, despite being just a couple of years out of school, is giving back to help others cross that finish line. Hodson has made two contributions in the past two years, and each dollar was matched by her employer, Allstate.
Hodson said she can’t contribute much more at the moment—she’s still only 24 and saving up for a house—but her plan is to start a scholarship fund for women who go the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) route like she did.
“I just want women to know that they are welcome in that field, and they do fit in,” Hodson said. “I think having some financial support behind them will help a lot.”
When she first donated, Hodson said she received an influx of emails from the school surprised that she donated at such a young age. But she feels it’s the least she can do to help students get through college with a little less stress.
“It doesn’t have to be hundreds of dollars,” Hodson said. “UNI will take any gift you give them. It all adds up, and once you start giving and see the impact it has on students, you can work your way up to make a bigger difference by granting someone a scholarship. “Everything helps, and I don’t think that can be overstated.”
An easy decision
Stewart Carter (MBA ’09) didn’t really have a hard decision on his hands when he was asked by UNIBusiness Dean Leslie Wilson to be a part of the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board three years ago. He was interested in finding opportunities to give back long before Wilson’s inquiry.
“I had been trying to get more engaged and give back,” said Carter, who is from the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area but received his undergraduate degree at Southern University in Louisiana. “That was an easy thing to say yes to, and an easy place to offer my viewpoints on issues. It’s been a good match.”
Carter, a logistics manager for John Deere, saw his role on the board as twofold: to help shape students for opportunities in the workplace, including John Deere, and to mold the UNI curriculum and mission for a brighter future.
Carter, who is on the board of the National Society of Black Engineers, believes he can add some valuable input regarding diversity and inclusion in particular.
“Being a person of color, I can talk about some of those challenges to ensure UNI is doing all the right things,” he said.
Carter, who is 54, touches on a point that can be forgotten when thinking about giving back: time. Carter and his wife, Chelsea, give annual financial gifts to the university and have a goal of creating a scholarship in the future, but they believe time is their most important resource to give back.
“Sometimes universities need your time,” Carter said. “We’ve consciously and intentionally figured out ways to give more of our time in addition to the financial support. My advice to other folks is to think of the gift of time as one of the most precious and valuable things you can do.
“There is so much power in giving, and in today’s society that can be the key thing in helping the university be successful and students be successful.”
All in all, as Carter reaches retirement age, he wants to influence the lives of the new generation while creating a legacy that remains for many years to come.
“Leaving a legacy is not saying that we’re giving up on life,” Carter said with a laugh. “As you get older, giving back is more important and those things—time and money—are more impactful for a longer period of time. We love being able to do that.”
Helping the next generation
Craig McCollam (Accounting ’82) was always a saver, so his high school jobs went a long way toward paying off his college education. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t experience some of the hardships of paying his way through college.
That’s why McCollam and his wife, Sharon, who attended college through night school, try to make it a point of emphasis in their household to give back.
“We knew how difficult it was to go through college with tough finances,” McCollam said. “We were very fortunate in our careers and things have gone well for us, so we thought we should give back and help other people who don’t have the means to go to college otherwise.”
McCollam, 58, is retired now, but he most recently worked at a private company called Aurora Networks as chief financial officer. While he and Sharon gave smaller gifts in the past, they set up an endowed scholarship three years ago. They’ve also given back to Sharon’s alma mater, the University of Central Oklahoma. Sharon was a successful chief financial officer for a number of organizations, including Best Buy.
For Craig, it’s important to give back to help those who may not have any other way to go to college. And that means the world to him. He especially enjoys receiving feedback from students he’s helped.
“It’s a great feeling to know you can help the students that are not fortunate enough to go to school otherwise,” McCollam said. “It’s important we help them do that. I think it helps the generation that’s going to college now be better, and that’s better for all of us in the long run.”