“Before coming to college, I didn’t feel like I had the skills to be a leader,” says Ryan Staley ’17. “Thanks to Wright State, that’s all changed.” Staley, an organizational leadership major from Springfield, has taken the campus by storm: He’s involved with the African-American Residential Caucus and the Black Students Union; he also works with VISTA (Volunteers In Service to America) and was selected to be a President’s Ambassador.
“Being a President’s Ambassador is great. I get to go to a lot of events where I work behind the scenes, greet people, and just generally showcase Wright State for stakeholders and community members,” he says.
“My involvement with these organizations and in my classes has allowed me to make strong connections with both professors and administrators. Because of that, I’ve gotten the support I needed to thrive. Today, I definitely feel like a leader.”
When Jasmine Easler ’16 graduates in May, the musical theater major will be ready to hit the stage—thanks to her Wright State training. “Faculty here have encouraged and supported me the whole way,” says Easler, who has performed in 14 shows during her college career. “They’ve shown real care and investment in who I am as an artist.”
A graduate of Toledo School for the Arts, Easler first looked at Wright State at the encouragement of one of her teachers, who was a Wright State alumnus. “There are two kinds of theater programs,” explains Easler, a recipient of the Tom Hanks Scholarship. “One puts you in a mold to become a Broadway performer. The other looks at you as an artist, drawing out your particular combination of talents. That’s the kind of school Wright State is. It ends up setting you apart from everyone else.”
After earning his marketing degree, Ian Kallay ’14 wanted to use his abilities for something bigger than himself, so he biked across the country to raise awareness of human trafficking. Starting at the Wright State Student Union and finishing 3,207 miles later at the Golden Gate Bridge, he endured 35 mph headwinds, 10,000-foot mountains, and 110-degree heat, plus a broken hand that put him on foot for the last 87 miles, which he ran in just three days.
“If I hadn’t gone to Wright State, I wouldn’t be anywhere near the person I needed to be to do this,” he says. “They’re so committed to using your abilities to change lives.” Kallay has been inspired by the Wright brothers—“two guys in a bike shop who invented the airplane”—to find his own purpose in life. Right now, that means finishing his MBA at Wright State . . . and training to swim the 981-mile length of the Ohio River.
“I chose Wright State for two reasons,” explains Will Crotty ’18. “The first is because film is my passion, and I knew that the university had a great motion pictures program. The second reason is accessibility: I was born with cerebral palsy and use a power wheelchair. Wright State has an outstanding reputation for disability services. They go out of their way to accommodate students’ needs. And it’s not just one office: Whether you’re in the student union or are walking across campus, people will stop to ask if they can help you.”
“The community is great—everyone is in the game together,” says Crotty, with a nod to his second great love: baseball. “My dream job would be to host my own TV show. It would be called It’s a Hit, where I’d interview baseball players about movies and movie stars about baseball. I think that would make for interesting discussions.”
Gwen Reynolds ’15 started community college after high school, but life got in the way. “I would take a class or two and drop out,” she says. “My dad had surgery, family members died, and I had my son, as a single parent.” She focused on raising him, telling him to get good grades so he could earn a scholarship and go to college. “When he was 15, he said, ‘How can you ask me to do something you never did? I’m going to need you to go back to college and get your degree before I get mine.’ Then he slid the college application across the table.”
Reynolds promised her son that she would complete her degree. “Then I ran out of money,” she recalls. The day she was going to withdraw, she unexpectedly received two scholarships, allowing her to graduate just before her son did. “He texted me and said, ‘Every day you amaze me. You go to school, you work full-time, you do an internship, and you take care of Grandma. And you still made a 4.0.’” She also didn’t stop there; Reynolds is now studying for her master’s degree in social work.
Emily Bingham ’15 chose Wright State because it was the best choice economically, thanks to competitive honors scholarships. Raised by a single mother, “I didn’t want to have to stick my mother with all of the bills,” she explains.
“I love it here,” she says of Wright State. “It’s a very diverse campus, with students of all different abilities, races, and gender orientation. I love the accessibility of faculty and the administration.” Bingham has been active in many different organizations, serving as director of campus culture for student government, editing the campus literary magazine, and volunteering with The Clubhouse, a program for inner-city children in Dayton.
Bingham’s work at The Clubhouse has reinforced her belief in the ongoing importance of scholarships. “The only way these kids are going to achieve their dreams is through higher education,” she says. “The only way they’re going to be able to go to college is through scholarships.”
Aaron Palmer is a man who sees possibilities. Growing up in an Akron housing project, it was hard to imagine going to college. But he did. And when family circumstances made that difficult—his father was diagnosed with cancer—Palmer started buying junk cars and fixing them up for sale. “I read manuals and watched a lot of YouTube videos,” he recalls, noting that he bought and sold 23 cars to finance the balance of his college education.
Palmer’s father died in 2010. “My one regret is that he didn’t live long enough to see me graduate from college,” he says. Today, thanks to scholarships, Palmer is a student at Wright State’s Boonshoft School of Medicine and aims to become a neurosurgeon. He finds his automotive experience serendipitously useful, explaining, “there are a lot of similarities between making a differential diagnosis on a patient and figuring out what’s wrong with a car.”
After more than six years in the Army, which included tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tyler Thompson ended up at Wright State, what he calls “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” He is now a rehabilitation services major, planning a career helping returning service members with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. “There are a lot of veterans out there struggling. I feel like I have some unique insights that could help them,” he says.
In the meantime, Thompson is doing a new tour of duty, this one as a fellow in The Mission Continues, a national non-profit that helps post-9/11 veterans serve again. Thompson works 20 hours per week at the university’s new Veteran and Military Center, where he provides peer guidance and coordinates activities for fellow veterans.
“I’m a big believer in Wright State,” Thompson concludes. “There are so many opportunities to get involved and succeed.”
Our namesakes, the Wright brothers, used ingenuity and innovation to make a lasting impact on the world. Today, we rise on their wings, prepared to shine, as we lift our university to new heights. Ahead, we see a bright future, one where Wright State is a new model for higher education: a public institution that is imaginative, unafraid to take risks, and nimble in adapting to the needs of a fast-changing world.
To reach that future, we are embarking on Rise. Shine. The Campaign for Wright State University. Partnering with you, our alumni and friends, we will invest in individuals, environments, and innovations to benefit our students and our region.
INDIVIDUALS—The dedicated people of Wright State: students and faculty
At its core, Wright State University is about people. Through the campaign, we will increase scholarships to keep college within reach of promising students. We will foster undergraduate research, giving students hands-on experiences that set them apart in a competitive job market. We will also support faculty by establishing endowed professorships to attract top scholars to Wright State.
ENVIRONMENTS—The places where learning and teaching take place
Twenty-first century learning must take place in 21st-century facilities. Campaign support, together with state capital budget and bond funding, will allow us to strategically invest in new construction as well as renovations to existing buildings. These projects, touching every aspect of the student experience, will create optimal teaching and learning spaces.
INNOVATIONS—The programs, centers, and outreach that touch our community
Over the past decade, Wright State has grown to become a well-respected public research university. Now we aspire to be a national model for change in higher education. Indeed, some of our innovations are already being emulated across the country. With campaign support, we will advance these efforts that change lives and open doors to new discoveries.
Early in the 20th century, Orville and Wilbur Wright were the builders of something that seemed unremarkable, just a tool for the common man and woman. Then, through flashes of brilliance and years of hard work, they invented a way to make what was once a bicycle soar. They gave coming generations wings upon which to rise—and with which to shine.
Perhaps that is Wright State University’s greatest connection to our namesakes, and our greatest legacy: we exist to take those who may at first seem unremarkable and help them soar. I will be frank: Wright State is not, and will never be, Harvard or Stanford or Yale. Those are extraordinary institutions, but they serve students who already come from extraordinary circumstances with extraordinary resources. They begin at the summit. I believe that Wright State is an extraordinary institution that serves as both an opportunity and a guide to reach that summit for the students who will come to believe they can make the ascent.
At Wright State, we still have limitless passion for the unique transformative power of higher education—and no illusions that any of the old models or the old assumptions are working in the 21st century. The transformation—when it happens—now happens in a new landscape and a new economic reality. A university education must be a real-world-relevant and an always-innovative partnership between students who want to rise and faculty who want them to shine. It should never be merely a given or a fallback or a way to pass the time waiting for what comes next. It must matter. The university must lift its students without allowing them to unwittingly dig a financial hole. The education—and the inspiration—we provide must lead clearly and effectively to a fulfilling and rewarding life.
At Wright State, we are leading the way as a new breed of university: continually evolving to deliver an education that is eminently relevant and financially accessible and that meets the changing needs of students, the real-world economy, and our collective future. As a state university, we are compelled to serve, helping our students achieve, bettering our community, and solving real problems. And we are focused on real results. Taking our lead from the pioneers of flight, we will be known for our innovation, our diversity, our accessibility, and our entrepreneurial spirit.
We can do none of that without you. The vital contribution of philanthropy to our mission is an equally powerful outcome of the new economic landscape—to help students reach their goals without the great weight of student debt, and to provide academics and the facilities to power those goals, requires your vision and your generosity. It is simply no longer possible to go it alone.
Through this campaign, we will level the playing field for our students, unveiling a world of possibilities and reachable dreams. Our time is now. With you as our partner, we will lead the way in American higher education. We will make the investments necessary to help all students achieve, serve our community, and advance applied research that answers important questions and creates jobs.
Join with us to rise and to shine. The best is yet to come.
RISE. SHINE. These two small-yet-powerful words describe today’s spirit at Wright State. Rise. Shine. The Campaign for Wright State University seeks to capitalize on that spirit and transform the university to benefit students and the economic future of Ohio and far beyond.
Inspired by the creative spirit of the Wright brothers, Wright State University aims to become a nationally recognized learning-centered and innovative university, known and admired for its inclusive culture that values the contributions of each student, faculty and staff member, and alumnus.
As the university approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017, it is already moving boldly into a new era of tremendous change, unprecedented challenge, and unlimited opportunity. This is an era in which Wright State University is uniquely positioned to succeed. Wright State’s track record speaks for itself: this accessible, affordable university has risen to world-class levels in academics, faculty, facilities, and research.
In co-chairing this campaign, we are committed to helping Wright State move ever forward, and always up. Join us in supporting this effort—together we will rise, together we will shine!
Your support of Wright State University provides more than 18,000 students with the resources necessary for them to receive the highest quality education that prepares them to shine like the 100,000+ alumni who graduated before them, and to be successful in their chosen professions while leaving a lasting impact in our world.
When you support Wright State University, you may designate your gift to the Wright State University Excellence Fund to support the area of greatest need, or any of the academic areas, programs, or scholarships that are most meaningful to you.
Click here to learn more about your designation options and to make your gift via credit card today!
To make your gift by check, complete the gift form online. Then print, sign, and date the form, and mail it to: Wright State University Foundation; 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy.; Dayton, Ohio 45435. Make checks payable to Wright State University Foundation.