UA Alumni: Why They Give

Kim Eisele, UA UA Alumni Association and UA Alumni Association
Aug. 4, 2014

When students attend the University of Arizona, they usually expect to get something out of their college experience: top-rated academics, a new social life, a sense of community and more.

What they don’t always anticipate is how much they will want to give back.

In Arizona Alumni Magazine's annual "10 by 10 feature," a group of 10 alumni who graduated 10 years ago speak about why they have decided to make financial gifts to the UA.

Among them are stories of finding professors and advisers at the UA who changed their perspectives and catapulted their careers, of meeting lifelong friends, of becoming dedicated Wildcats sports fans, and even of meeting their spouses. Influential professors and learning experiences that shaped their careers are what motivate many to become donors.

Here we feature five of the 10 UA alumni featured in "10x10: Alumni Who Give Back to the UA." The largest fundraising campaign in UA history is currently underway. To learn more, visit Arizona Now. To read the other alumni stories, visit the online version of the magazine.

Photos by Jacob Chinn, Focal Point Studios and Lauren Greer-Taffe

"We donate to the fine arts department and specifically to the marching band. My husband and I wouldn’t have met had it not been for the band. We had a great time, so we help keep it alive and possibly expose a younger generation to what we got to experience. With budget cuts, the arts are getting hit more than any other department, it seems. That’s a shame, because the band really is what drove us to be the people we are. You need things like that." Becky Coyle, who earned a degree in music, now lives in Farmington Hills, Michigan, where she is an attorney specializing in elder law and estate planning.

"Most of my closest friends I met in school. I lived in Arizona-Sonora dorm as a freshman. On the first day after my parents dropped me off, there was some kind of mixer, and I went with this one guy who lived across the hall from me. I went to get him a soda at one point and when I came back, he wasn’t there. I thought, 'This guy's a piece of work.' But throughout that year we became really close friends. I buried the hatchet, I guess. Since 2004, he and I have talked just about every week. Those friendships from the UA continue to be something I cherish." Cameron J. Omoto, who earned an undergraduate degree in business administration and a master's in accounting, is the director of a risk management, property management and construction company in Scottsdale, Arizona.

"My wife and I believe strongly in philanthropy. We’ve always given to children's charities and thus began our involvement with PANDA (People Acting Now Discover Answers) and the UA Steele Children’s Research Center. Not long ago, our son Anthony needed their services. The Steele Center and their incredible doctors have helped us get answers that we wouldn’t have found elsewhere. My wife and I have come full circle back to the University of Arizona. We never would have thought 10 years after graduation we would benefit from the University in such a profound manner." Christopher Karas, who earned a degree in physiological sciences, is now a real estate agent living in Phoenix. 

"When my father passed away, we wanted to do something in his memory. Both my parents had moved from the Midwest to Tucson, and my mom and I felt that Tucson had become our home. My dad was a doctor and so we thought it would be a great idea to give to the medical school and help support doctors who want to work in rural areas, which is what my dad wanted to do but wasn't able to. Arizona has so many rural areas. We wanted help to make sure those areas have the resources they need." Ann VerSteeg, who earned a psychology degree, is now a pediatric physical therapist in Los Angeles.

 

"I wouldn't have what I have without the University. The law school really improved my ability to think. Without that confidence and educational training, I wouldn't be where I am. It was the personal interaction with students, professors and law school administrators that helped me see what can get done when you have the desire to make change. The UA law school has some of smartest people in the world. To know I was there and survived in that environment makes me feel good every day." Francisco Aguilar, who earned his MBA and juris doctorate from the UA, now lives in Las Vegas, where he is general counsel for Agassi Graf Holdings and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education. He also is chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission.

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