Howard W. Hewitt – The power of social media and the tenacity of a young Wabash alum has been a great story throughout the summer and fall.
Jeff Soller ’12, a Lambda Chi, campus leader, and now a Teach for America participant in Houston, Texas, will be bringing four high school seniors to visit campus thanks to the generosity of more than 50 supporters. Soller used an online fund-raising website to generate $1800 to bring students to Wabash. The students are part of his advisory group.
“I have 12 senior male students that I mentor throughout their time at the school,” Soller explained. “Last year, when they were juniors, I told them about Wabash, what it did for me, and what makes it a special place. It is unlike any school they had been exposed to during their time, and they were intrigued. One of my former students, Alex Reyna, is a current freshman at Wabash this year, and once my boys heard of Alex’s success, they were interested to go on a visit.
“I wanted to offer my students an opportunity to visit a school that would push their thinking about what their 4 years of college needs to be. I asked my advisees to heavily consider their interest in the College and think about whether they are truly interested or not. The result of those conversations was having 4 young men tell me they wanted to visit and apply.”
But it’s a long way from Texas to Crawfordsville so Soller turned to the web and social media. He got a lot of Wabash help along the way.
“A few proud alums were extremely instrumental in our effort. Greg Castanias ‘87 and Greg Estell ’85 were excellent advocates through social media, reaching out to their personal networks in support of the project. Also, Jeremy Wentzel ’14 was a great advocate for the project as a voice among the current student body. The Alumni Affairs office was happy to help and helped maintain the flow of donations through the summer, thanks to the help of Seton Goddard ‘14. My fraternity brothers, from multiple generations, were a huge help in creating buzz about the project.”
It all started with a $15 donation in May and ended Oct. 15 with an $85 donation from Greg Estell – honoring his class year and getting Soller to his $1,800 goal. The money came from 51 donors, including alumni and friends of the college. The fundraising page was shared on Facebook more than 1,000 times. The donation page had 650 visits in the short time frame. Alumni donors ranged from the class of 1955 to 2015.
“I have truly been blown away by the support of friends of mine, and friends of the College,” Soller wrote. “A large reason why I attended Wabash was because of the loyalty I saw from alumni, and I now have been able to tap into that resource and hopefully change the lives of students of mine.”
Soller and the students will be on campus Nov. 7-9.