When Paula Cosby MPA ’12, interviewed for her current job at Clothes That Work, she says Wright State gave her an edge.
“I was one of 100 applicants. My Wright State master’s degree put me at the head of the class,” Cosby explains. Today, as executive director of the Dayton-based nonprofit, she oversees a program that provides interview-appropriate clothing and personalized, confidence-building image services to 1,000 clients annually. “We empower men and women of all ages with knowledge and clothing,” she says.
Cosby finds natural parallels between her work and that of Wright State. “Wright State students benefit from all that the university offers in terms of career services—things like résumé writing, mock interviewing, and job-readiness workshops. In that way, Wright State prepares students for success. My organization does similar work with under-resourced clients in the Dayton area who are looking to enter or get back into the workforce.”
As a coordinator in Wright State’s Office of Latino Affairs, Kathryn Espino ’15 uses her personal experience to help students just like her. “I’m a first-generation Mexican American and a Dayton native. No one in my family had gone to college. It took me 11 years to get my bachelor’s degree, but I did it,” she says.
Now, she works with individual students and in programs to recruit and retain students of Latino descent. “It’s everything from organizing a Latino artists’ night to showcase all the amazing creative talent here to connecting students with jobs in the community,” she explains. “I never expected to be a college graduate and do this kind of work. For me, it’s fulfilling to advocate for students who are at risk and connect them with the resources they need to succeed at Wright State. I tell them if I did it, they can too.”
Nathaniel Stewart ’13 is a bonafide self-starter. Within 18 months of graduation, he founded the NuLief Group, a Columbus-based nonprofit that provides permanent supportive housing to people who are homeless and struggling with mental illness or addiction. “The idea is to bridge gaps in existing community services, helping residents make a seamless transition back into society,” he says.
Although Stewart acknowledges his entrepreneurial bent, he says his Wright State education gave him the tools to shine. “Wright State does an excellent job providing the resources students need to be successful,” he explains. “They create a model that promotes being involved on campus.” By taking an active role in student organizations, such as Black Men on the Move and Black Business Students, Stewart says, “I developed my own voice. Wright State set me on the trajectory I’m on now. I can definitely say Wright State developed me into the person I am today.”
Wright State was a brand new university in 1967, the year Douglas Boyd ’71 graduated from high school—and that coincidence changed his life. “They said, ‘We’ll figure out the financial part if you keep your grades up,’” he recalls. “I’m not sure I could have afforded to go anywhere else.”
Boyd did get good grades, thriving on the way faculty and staff treated him like a peer and gave him responsibility. “The self-discipline I learned was essential when I went to work for Junior Achievement, a career that lasted 43 years.” Since retiring as president of Junior Achievement of Middletown Area, he has continued to volunteer for his alma mater through the College of Education and Human Services, the Alumni Association, and the WSU Foundation. “Wright State gave me the opportunity, and I’ve done my best to pay it forward,” he says.
John Lyman MD ’80 was doing NASA-funded research at the University of California when his principal investigator left to become the first dean of the Boonshoft School of Medicine. Lyman followed, figuring he would continue the biorhythms research for a couple of years and then return to sunny California. Instead, he ended up applying to medical school and following a dream he had set aside years ago. “Luckily for me, they wanted students with life experiences in that charter class,” he says.
Lyman fell in love with the intensity of emergency medicine and has spent more than 35 years saving lives, holding patients’ hands, and listening. “The entire medical community has now come back to where Wright State has been from the get-go—realizing how important the human side of medicine is, not just test scores.”
“I’m like a lot of Wright State grads,” says Michael Bridges ’81, president of Peerless Technologies Corporation in Fairborn. “I grew up nearby and was the first person in my family to attend college. Going to Wright State was a big step for me.”
At Wright State, Bridges says he got a “very, very good education,” and as a plus, he met his wife, Marcia, at the Wright State library. After focusing on his career for years, he was drawn back to the university as a volunteer. He now serves as vice chairman of the Wright State University Board of Trustees.
“We’re the university that has opened its arms to students, our community, and our state,” says Bridges. “We educate the people who run the Miami Valley, our state, and the nation. We build bridges between where students are and where they want to go. We help them transform their visions into reality.”
TyKiah Wright ’00, MBA ’01 has never let her wheelchair stand in her way. So she was surprised after graduating with two degrees and going on many interviews that she hadn’t landed a job. “I figured it was because I was rolling into interviews, not walking,” she says.
So Wright took destiny into her own hands and started Wright Choice, what she describes as “a workforce development organization helping to form the next generation of young leaders.” Wright Choice runs workshops and mentoring programs and lines up internships for young people from ages 17 to 24. Her success has not gone unnoticed: President Obama recently named Wright to the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.
Wright credits Wright State, where she served on student government and on her sorority board, with helping her develop leadership skills. “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today without Wright State,” she concludes.
Author Ann Weisgarber ’76 is on a roll. Her first novel, The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, was published in 2009 with much acclaim. It won awards in the U.S. and U.K. and has been optioned as a movie. Her second novel, The Promise, has also garnered awards; she is now at work on a third book, set in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park.
Not bad for a second career. The former social worker and community college professor has now become a full-time writer, thanks to her first novel’s success, which led to a publishing contract. “It’s been a very strange route. I’ve been very lucky,” says Weisgarber. She credits the diversity at Wright State with expanding her horizons and a sociology professor with teaching her the basics of character development. “‘You can’t judge from your perspective,’ he told the class. ‘You have to step into another’s shoes.’”
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.