What a difference a day makes

First-time donors on the Wright Day to Give talk about what motivated them and why they continue to give

Alex Hunter ’11 and Stefanie Hreha ’11

Little did Alex Hunter ’11 and Stefanie Hreha ’11 know they’d be part of a trend. In the early fall of 2017, the couple heard about a new way to support their alma mater.

That new way would take place on October 1, recognized as Wright State’s Founders’ Day. On that day in 1967, Wright State became its own university, having previously been jointly run by The Ohio State University and Miami University. To pay homage to the 50th anniversary, the new event would span 50 hours. More than a day—but this was more than the normal fundraising campaign. It was the start of something big.

Thus began Wright Day to Give. It’s been on October 1 every year since the first one in 2017—except for this year. October 1 falls on a weekend, so this fall, Wright Day to Give will be on Thursday, October 6 (save the date!).

That’s all well and good with Alex and now Stefanie Hunter—the couple married on New Year’s Eve 2017 after being introduced by Wright State friends in 2013. They’ve donated on Wright Day to Give ever since, and do so happily and with gratitude.

“Stefanie brought it up, for sure,” Alex said as he recalled their conversation about donating that day in 2017. “There was no convincing needed on my part.”

“When I transitioned into being an alumna,” Stefanie added, “I felt the need to support Greek life.” Stefanie has been active in her sorority, Theta Phi Alpha. “It gave me a home away from home,” she said.

She came to Wright State from Lorain, located by Lake Erie, nearly four hours away. Stefanie said she was introduced to the campus by a high school teacher who was a Wright State graduate. “He brought our family on a tour, and I was sold. It was all in one area—I didn’t have to ride city buses to get to classes. There’s a sense of community that’s big, but not too big,” Stefanie said.

 An anthropology major, Stefanie found that joining a sorority offered many benefits. “It gave me a group that I could confide in, and allowed me to build leadership skills. Any organization you join gives you those opportunities,” she said.

She also was in jazz band and pep band. “Everyone needs a place to belong, and I found my place,” said Stefanie, now director of patient recruitment and engagement for Evolution Research Group.

Alex, a Beavercreek native and senior analyst for CareSource, came to Wright State by a more circuitous route. He started at the University of Cincinnati, but family concerns arose. “I decided to come home and take on my own financial responsibility,” he said. He took classes at Sinclair Community College and finished earning his accountancy degree at Wright State.

His experience in managing debt while achieving his degree was fresh in his mind when Stefanie broached the subject of the inaugural Wright Day to Give. They earmarked their gift to student scholarships.

“It’s important for us to give back to Wright State, to take care of people who can benefit from it,” Stefanie said. “This isn’t a grandiose gesture, just donating our Starbucks money every day to make a difference in someone’s life. We’ve earmarked donations for Greek scholarships, scholarships in general, or whatever the greatest need is at the time.”

The Hunters’ largesse toward scholarships represents one of three basic categories in which alumni have designated donations, the other two being programs and athletics.

Biological sciences graduate and current Boonshoft School of Medicine student Tanner Hudson

Alumnus Tanner Hudson shares their giving spirit. He gravitates toward supporting academics and athletics for personal and professional reasons.

“Every year I typically give to the College of Science and Mathematics, because that college has the biology department,” said Hudson, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences in 2018. “This past year I also gave to the athletic programs. Our student-athletes are successful on and off the court and field, and in the classroom. They exhibit the incredible value of the Wright State brand in the community.”

Hudson has the distinction of first giving as a student, in 2018, and continuing as both an alumnus and a graduate student—he is in his fourth and final year in the Boonshoft School of Medicine, where he is studying to become a physician and eventually an orthopedic surgeon.

What brought him to Wright State? “I’m local and very familiar with Wright State,” said the Jamestown, Ohio, native. “My older brother was at Wright State, studying accounting and finance. I saw the opportunities here through him. I joined him as an undergrad.” His brother, Garrett, earned his bachelor’s degree in 2016 and a master’s degree in accountancy in 2018.

“I had always enjoyed science, and anatomy specifically,” explained Hudson. “What got me interested in medicine was a few knee injuries I had playing basketball in high school. That was my first big exposure to the medical field. I saw how doctors used science and anatomy to help me. I pictured myself going into a field like that to combine my interests in science and anatomy and in helping others. Medicine’s a good way to do that.”

He added, “I combine that with a love of sports and working with younger athletes. I get to mesh all of that together.”

Hudson made his first donation in 2018 largely through his involvement with the ’67 Society, a student organization focusing on professional development, leadership advancement, and philanthropy. “I was fortunate to get scholarships through the generosity of others. I chose to donate as a student because I wanted to pay it forward to students coming behind me,” he said.

“I’m a med student. I’m not a high-dollar donor,” he chuckled.

That leads to another point Hudson makes passionately. “Even a small donation can make a difference in a student’s journey,” he said. “Every little bit can count.”

As someone pursuing a second degree who has lived his entire life in this area, he said, “the success of Wright State and its students is the success of the Dayton region.”

When considering whether to donate on Wright Day to Give, Hudson encourages young alumni to “think about how someone else’s donation may have benefited them on their journey. In turn, think about how they can pay that forward and make a difference in the next student’s journey.”

Following up on that theme of making a difference, and looking ahead to this year’s Wright Day to Give, the Hunters put the day in perspective. “It’s good knowing the money is going to people who need it, or to the next Tony or Emmy-award winner, or the next Louis Armstrong from the music department. You just never know,” Stefanie said.

“To give is to be a part of something bigger,” Stefanie said. “It’s important to realize that. Wright State gave us something tangible, a degree, but there are the intangibles, like friendships and leadership opportunities.”

“If you can, answer the call,” Alex added.

Want to be a part of something bigger? Give back at wright.edu/give/wrightday2give.

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