Students tell inspiring stories of scholarship impact to kick off EMU Faculty & Staff Giving Campaign

YPSILANTI – Amanda Agosta, a senior at Eastern Michigan University, spoke about being rescued by scholarship funding as her family endured financial and personal hardship. Fellow EMU student David Rasky recounted a donor-funded trip to Manhattan and Wall Street – the trip of a lifetime for the business major.

The two students spoke movingly of the help they received from donors, offering their personal stories to an appreciative crowd in the McKenny Hall Ballroom during the Sept. 27 kick-off of the University’s annual Faculty & Staff Giving Campaign.

Each year, EMU employees are asked to donate to programs and support services that sustain the University’s lengthy list of causes. Faculty and staff are given options to contribute to a college, program or facility, a specific fund, or to support the EMU Fund.

Vice President of Advancement and President Smith with students Amanda Agosta and David Rasky at the faculty and staff campaign kickoff event.
L-R: Bill Shepard, vice president of EMU Advancement; students Amanda Agosta and David Rasky, and EMU President James Smith.

EMU President James Smith urged employees to recognize their importance in supporting quality of life and education for the more than 21,000 students enrolled at Eastern. President Smith said the University must communicate its own story by showcasing EMU’s incredible students.

Agosta, who is majoring in exercise science, spoke about her family’s struggles during the recession years, when their independently owned auto parts shop went under. Soon after, the family declared bankruptcy. 

“I’ll never forget the look in my mother’s eyes when I asked her if we were still going to have a house to live in,” she said.

Her father eventually found employment and they settled into a new routine, but the family had little resources to pay for college. Agosta received financial aid and supported herself by working up to three jobs. She recalled the day that she received her scholarship notice.

“I cried when I saw that I received not one but two scholarships,” she said.

With her scholarship support, Agosta was able to leave one of her jobs and stay enrolled in classes. She will graduate in spring, 2018 with honors.

Rasky, a senior majoring in finance and economics, spoke about his life-changing visit to New York City, made possible by a generous donation to EMU’s College of Business. Rasky said he never would have had the chance to visit the world’s financial capital without the generous donation.

Rasky recalled his experience visiting the New York Stock Exchange, closed to the public since the 9/11, and touring the United Nations building. 

“No offense to my professors, but I probably learned more about finance in that one week (in New York), than in two years here at Eastern,” said David. “It was definitely a life-changing experience.”

Agosta and Rasky are just two out of thousands of EMU students past and present who have benefited from donor-funded support. Private funding not only directly supports student programming, but advances institutional excellence as EMU continues to build and grow, said William Shepard, vice president of advancement and executive director of the EMU Foundation.

“Students are the reason why we work so hard to sustain and evolve educational programming and scholarships,” said Shepard. “Our ultimate goal in Advancement is the same as the University’s – to support our student community, keep them enrolled and on the path to graduation.”

There are a variety of ways to give during EMU’s Faculty & Staff Campaign:

  • Online at
  • Payroll deduction can also be done online:
  • Mail or bring your check to EMU Foundation Office at 112 Welch Hall
  • To discuss future gifts to EMU of your retirement plan assets, life insurance, or gifts through your will or revocable trust, contact Gift Planning at 734-487-5634.

For more information on the Faculty & Staff Campaign, contact Carole Booms, director of Annual Giving, at 734-487-7682.



October 05, 2017

Written by:
Austen Smith

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom