Guest Opinion: Philanthropy changed my perspective

UI student Erika Harvey shares how the UI and philanthropic involvement as a student has led her to live a life as a philanthropist.


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The Old Capitol is shown on Monday, July 25, 2016.

Erika Harvey

People often say that college is the time in your life when you find out who you are. You develop your identity and understand the person you will become. I’m proud to say that philanthropy has played a crucial role in defining who I am and who I want to be.

When I arrived at the University of Iowa as a freshman, I immediately joined UI Dance Marathon. Since then, I’ve had the privilege to help the largest student organization on campus raise more than $3 million, begin its first campaign, and engage a record number of students in its mission. My involvement in philanthropic student organizations has helped me realize how powerful philanthropy is in shaping the experiences of every student at the University of Iowa.

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When I walk around campus today, I see it through a new perspective. Every building represents the generosity of alumni who want students to learn in the best facilities. Every program and department represents fellow Hawkeyes who see ways to improve our experiences—and they give their all to make it happen. Every time the fans at Kinnick Stadium turn and wave to the patients at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, I know those kids are receiving the best care because of people who give back. Each and every experience I have is thanks to philanthropists who may not know me, but care about my college experience.

I feel incredibly grateful that I chose the University of Iowa, where I have had the opportunity to learn about philanthropy, engage with philanthropists, and become one myself. I would like to say thanks to the University of Iowa, its generous alumni and friends, and my fellow students for the knowledge I’ve gained and the confidence I’ve developed to shape my future goals and aspirations.

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