September 13, 2015

A Breakfast Breakthrough

Michael R. Gillespie '95

Chief Accounting Officer
Hersha Hospitality Trust
Bloomsburg Foundation Treasurer
Major: Accounting
Area of Support: Gillespie Fellowship – provides seed money to faculty to work on innovative projects with students, do field research, and take advantage of professional development opportunities

When I attended Bloomsburg, I was one of a few students who would go to breakfast at 7 a.m., and I would often be invited to sit with a table of faculty and staff. We talked about everything, from critical world issues to issues facing Bloomsburg. You could tell by the way they viewed and spoke about the world, their students and Bloomsburg, that they were a group of individuals who truly cared. These conversations shaped my Bloomsburg experience and, as I would later realize, my life.

After I graduated, and as time went on, I found myself not as connected to the university as I once was. When I did start getting engaged again it was out of a sense of obligation. I accepted an invitation from the Zeigler Institute for Professional Development to come back to mentor and speak to students. But the more I became involved, the more my motivation shifted. I began to feel like I was actually making a difference. My drive to give back became the realization that Bloomsburg can really advance a generation beyond the one before.

Because Bloomsburg provides affordable access to higher education, first-generation students like myself are in a far different place than their parents and relatives before them. I decided I wanted to make an impact on the future of these students. However, at my giving level I wouldn’t have had the broad reach that I wanted. That’s when I decided to support faculty, because if we can recruit and retain high-quality faculty, such as the members of my morning breakfast club, we can impact hundreds of students every semester.

Our gifts really can make a difference. We can elevate a generation.

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