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Spotlighting Leadership Annual Giving Donors and Scholarship Support

By Lea Hart

NC State recognizes Leadership Annual Giving supporters as giving between $1,000 to $9,999 annually. The areas of support can vary, but these five donors choose to support scholarships within the Poole College of Management by establishing current use scholarships. This means students are awarded the money given by each donor, and donors are asked to establish current use scholarships with a minimum commitment of $2,500 committed for four years. 

Hear from these five Poole College scholarship supporters as they reflect on their connections to the Poole College of Management and share their motivation for giving back.

Bob and Liz Newell

Bob Newell received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management in 1981.

How did your experiences at NC State prepare you for your career?

When I got to NC State in fall of 1977, there was no Poole College. At that time, if you were in business or economics, you were in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. NC State was known for agriculture, engineering, and textiles, but I quickly realized the professors in my business classes were excellent. One of my earliest courses with Dr. Ed Erickson helped me understand the big picture of economies and capitalism for the first time, and got me hooked. He was my first experience in having a professor turn your head to what you’re there for. Then one of my last courses was an elective with Dr. Jim Wallace. He was the first adult outside of a family member that told me he saw something in me and said he believed I could do more. Those two professors had a pretty profound impact on me. As I think back about NC State and what is now the Poole College, and how things have grown, I give a lot of credit to those early professors that showed some confidence in me.

What motivated you to support scholarships within Poole College?

I’ve always had a soft spot for a kid that really wants to better themselves. I asked that my support go to someone on a needs basis. When I was there, tuition and books were less than $400 a semester. It’s just so much more now. If you think about someone struggling to piece together that tuition and you think about all the kids that want to get out ahead, I just thought that was an easy answer for me. My parents were able to pay for my college tuition, but that isn’t the case for most people.

What would you say to encourage fellow alumni to give back to Poole College or support scholarships?

Take a good hard look at what NC State has become. It’s dramatically better than it was when I was there 41 years ago. We’re a top 25 public university – that wasn’t in the cards 41 years ago. When Randy Woodson came on board and Brian Sischo, they really changed the game. Everybody loves a winner and that’s what we are now. Back when I was in school, we were proud of NC State. At the same time, if you looked at the national stats there was nothing to back that up, but now the story is complete.

Christopher and Sarah Meredith

Christopher Meredith received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 2007 and a Master of Accounting in 2008; and Sarah Meredith received a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, with a minor in Accounting in 2007.

How did Poole College challenge you to grow personally and professionally?

It opened up our eyes. Going to NC State exposes you to students from other parts of the country and other parts of the world. It challenged us to think about what opportunities are out there. Coming to a school where you’re living and going to class with people from all different kinds of backgrounds gets you thinking about how you relate to different people and different cultures. The project-oriented work also teaches you how to work as a team with people from different cultures. That’s representative of what your professional life is going to be like and it’s so important to have that experience before you enter the workforce.

What motivated you to give back to Poole?

We felt it was important to give back to NC State. Inflation has been around a long time when it comes to college tuition and expenses. The price of a post-secondary education has risen a lot. We think getting a four-year degree is important, and we wanted to give back to Poole because we both took classes there and we met in an accounting class. That’s where it all first began for us. Our scholarship support is for a student majoring in accounting who is also a transfer student from a North Carolina community college. Students often begin their studies at a community college because the cost is so expensive for a four-year degree. It’s a more cost affordable solution to take those general courses and then transfer. Some of them still may not think they can afford a four-year institution and we want them to see it as a possibility.

Why would you encourage fellow alumni to give back to Poole College and support scholarships?

We believe it’s all about being intentional with your giving through your time, talents, or treasures. We would tell others, you were blessed and fortunate to receive a world-class education at NC State that prepared you for your chosen career, why not pay that forward and do that for others? We want the next generation to be successful and have access to amazing opportunities to pursue their dreams, much like our parents worked hard to give us better opportunities than they had when they were growing up. It’s about making the next generation even more equipped to tackle the challenges of the future. If you’ve got the means to help others then you have an obligation, in our minds, to pay it forward.

Bryan and Kellie Huffman

Bryan Huffman received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management in 1996 and an MBA in 2006, and Kellie Huffman received a Master of School Administration in 2006.

What was your most valuable experience at Poole and why?

The group work. I had come from a nonprofit where life was so different. To be able to sit there with people who worked at places like Lenovo and other for-profit companies was fascinating. Their experience was so different from mine, and yet we all applied what we knew to our life in academia. That experience with students from other sectors was just invaluable, to see life through their lens. And then, my experiences with professors, too. So many of them had real-world experience, so they taught us the theory and then could share a practical application in the real world.

How did Poole challenge you to grow personally and professionally?

I came from a small town in western North Carolina. High school was easy for me and I didn’t really learn how to study. During my undergraduate, professors knew me or got to know me. I went to office hours with some professors on a somewhat regular basis and they are really the ones who taught me how to study. They taught me to learn in a way where I was really learning the subject matter, and not just memorizing it. From there, I learned how to apply it to future classes and to the real world.

What motivated you to give back to Poole?

My wife and I both care a lot about education. We both have master’s degrees from NC State and we value education a lot. For me, personally, I spent the span of two college degrees within the halls of Poole College and with the professors and other students. I didn’t come from a lot of wealth and I was borrowing funds for student loans. I paid that off but I don’t want everyone to have to go that route. College costs more now than it did when I went through. Student loans are tough to overcome while trying to get your feet in the real world. I think if students can come out with less debt, the quicker they’ll be successful in their careers and in society. It makes the world better, faster. 

Wendy and Fred Douglas

Wendy Douglas received a Master of Science, Management, ECL Option in 2001.

How did Poole challenge you to grow personally and professionally?

Every class I took challenged me to learn something new, to expand my horizons and to think differently. A class in human resources might change the way you look at how you treat employees, or a finance class teaches about how you protect the resources of the company. There was a class toward the end of my time that was all about innovation, and I had the opportunity to work with a local company to come up with an innovative solution to a problem they were having at the time. That taught me about working cross-functionally. I had classmates from the College of Engineering, and bringing all of us together working as a team was really incredible.

What motivated you to give back to Poole?

It goes back to all of those experiences I had and how it allowed me to grow in my career. To be able to have that experience is phenomenal and not everybody can do so due to finances. As I thought about giving back I explored different opportunities, and my husband and I decided we wanted to support a student in a way that would help them get their foot in the door. Because if you can’t even do that, you can’t get to that next opportunity.

What would you say to encourage fellow alumni to give back to Poole College or support scholarships?

Think about paying it forward. That’s a slogan but It means a lot. I have benefited significantly from the experiences I had at Poole and I want to be able to share that with others. Through promotions and salary increases over the years, I’ve been able to accumulate some wealth that I can now share with others. I’m sure there are many others in that same situation, and I would encourage them. You benefited from what happened to you at NC State. Think about sharing that with others who aren’t as fortunate.

Jay and Olivia Arrington

Jay Arrington is Director of Admissions for the Jenkins Master of Accounting Program at the Poole College of Management.

What’s your role at Poole College and what do you love most about Poole and its mission?

I serve as Director of Admissions for the Jenkins Master of Accounting Program. As a whole, I believe NC State is a university that matches what it says in its marketing. It’s about trying to build a community, being focused on the students, being progressive, and following that with the ‘think and do’ model when it comes to our students. The programs at Poole offer more than just theory, they offer application and real, hands-on experience. At the graduate level, they build in practicums to give students that exposure. In the MAC program too, we have 100 percent job placement, so it’s not just about educating students, it’s about making sure they’re successful afterward too.

What motivated you to give back to Poole?

I’m a first-generation college student myself from a diverse background. I realized that universities and employers talk so often about how they want to increase diversity, but say they can’t find enough talent out there. I think it’s more that there are tons of talented people from diverse backgrounds but there are limitations that stand in their way. If students can go to school in a more affordable way, they can reduce their debt coming out, get into the work world and contribute.

Why would you encourage fellow staff and faculty to give back to Poole College or support scholarships?

I believe that in some way, shape, or form we have all received some type of assistance in life. So many students have worked really hard but may have some barrier of entry or something that prevents them from going where they need to go. If we can offer them assistance in the beginning, imagine how vast their impact can be in the end.

If you are interested in learning more about leadership annual giving support in the Poole College of Management, please contact Anne Clark Lau, Associate Director of Development at