"If all there was to a university was truly classroom learning, you could make a strong argument for doing it remotely and not leaving your room or your house," Aaron Otto says. "But I believe there's so much more to the experience outside the classroom as well and the culture and interaction that takes place through campus involvement and campus leadership in student groups."
Aaron's passion for campus involvement and his love of Kansas State University have inspired him to support four areas of the university:
- the political science department;
- leadership studies;
- the alumni association; and
- the Delta Chi fraternity.
Aaron, a first-generation K-State graduate, embraced his college experience with gusto, joining a fraternity, getting involved in student government, running for student body president and serving as student body vice president. He graduated in 1998 with a degree in political science and minors in business and leadership studies.
Aaron feels fortunate to have been on campus for the beginning of the leadership studies program.
"I didn't think there was any chance leadership studies would come to be a formal minor prior to my graduating," he says. "By 1996 they got approval to offer it in 1997 through the College of Education and I happened to be a fifth-year student, so I got to be in the first class of leadership studies.
"It teaches terribly important traits cutting across any major and would be a definite bonus to any degree because of the leadership it teaches."
Scholarships for active students
Extracurricular activities on campus were extremely important to Aaron during his time as an undergraduate and he's set up his scholarships to be awarded to those who get involved.
"Activities take away time you have to earn money by working a job. So this is a way to relieve the debt load or some of the debt burden that students may have with loans," Aaron says. "These were set up to allow people to recognize and celebrate their involvement in student government, a campus club or Greek life.
"Since these students are making the sacrifice to provide programming, to provide leadership in terms of decision-making, this is a way to offset time they spend in meetings or organizing or planning something when they could be making money themselves to try to reduce their debt load. So I see it as a direct offset and almost as a thank you for their involvement and their service."
Two great gifts
Two great gifts that people have are their time and treasure. Aaron gave of his time while a K-State student and he continues to give his time to K-State in many ways.
He began his involvement with the alumni association while a graduate student in Washington, D.C., and is currently the chair-elect of the KSU Alumni Association Board of Directors. Aaron continues to stay involved with his fraternity, Delta Chi, where he serves as the international treasurer and local chapter advisor at Kansas State and is on the Leadership Studies Advancement Council.
While very generous with his time, Aaron also wanted to contribute to K-State financially but thought he'd always be limited to giving a little bit at a time.
"I was looking for ways to leverage the disposable dollars or discretionary dollars that I did have available and where I wanted them to go and investigated the deferred giving option," he says.
"Through the deferred giving option, I found a way to maximize the return on the investment of what I was paying toward a premium. And then some day in the future, hopefully far in the future, there would be a large contribution to the university to help advance the academic mission and activities of the school."
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