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10 Years of Giving: Meet 10 People Impacted by One Day Give

To celebrate the 10th year of this event, here are 10 people who’ve benefited from or contributed to One Day Give.

One Day Give is Millersville University’s annual online fundraising event. Each year, the Millersville community supports the University’s students, athletic teams and more. To celebrate the 10th year of this event on February 23, 2023, here are 10 people who’ve directly benefited from or contributed to the One Day Give over the last 10 years. Want to make a gift? Click here to donate now 

  1. LAUREN COCA ’23: Environmental and Spatial Sciences major with a minor in Environmental Hazards and Emergency Management

In 2020, many donors gave to the EPPIIC Student Compassion Fund, which assists vulnerable students with funding for food, water, housing assistance, medicine and more. Lauren Coca is just one student of many to benefit from those gifts. “I benefited from the EPPIIC Student Compassion Fund by being able to pay for rent and meals as I pursued an internship on campus. Having those necessities taken care of allowed me to excel in my experiential learning co-op as a garden assistant, growing food for the Campus Cupboard during the summer sessions and tackling food insecurity on campus.” 

As a recipient of the fund during the throes of the pandemic, Coca says she understands why it’s important to give. “It is critically important to donate to causes like the EPPIIC Student Compassion Fund, as it enables students to focus and excel in their classes,” she shares. “Finances are one of the most significant components college students must worry about as they juggle their educational needs.” 

Because of the funds she received, Coca could focus on her education. Since then, she became the vice president of the Student Government Association and treasurer in MU’s Society of Manufacturing Engineers chapter. Coca has also dived into more of her passions. “We have turned trash into upcycled keychains, bottle openers, succulent pots, and so much more using industrial shredders and injection molding processes,” she shares. Once Coca graduates, she hopes to pursue work in the environmental field and, eventually, a master’s degree in microplastics research. 

  1. SPENCER SHORTT ‘23: Psychology ‘21, Sport Management ‘23

Last year, the Millersville University men’s soccer team was able to visit England because of generous donations made to the team during One Day Give. Spencer Shortt, a forward on the team, says the trip was a valuable experience for everyone. “Going to England provided my teammates and me the opportunity to learn and appreciate the cultural differences of England as well as grow and build our relationship as a team to prepare for the upcoming season,” he shares. “We made unforgettable memories that will stay with us for a lifetime.”   

 “Personally, the most impactful part of the trip was getting to tour different cities and interact with locals to learn about their culture and way of life,” says Shortt of the team’s travels. “I enjoyed attending the professional matches and playing against English clubs, but exploring the cities and interactions was most impactful.” 

As someone who has experienced the benefits of One Day Give, Shortt understands the importance of this day and what it means to the Millersville community. “One Day Give is the easiest and most beneficial way to positively impact Millersville Athletic teams as a supporter,” he says. “Donations through One Day Give provide students and student-athletes opportunities and experiences that we would not be able to get without that support.”  

After graduation, Shortt plans to move to Florida, where he will apply his undergraduate degree in psychology along with his master’s degree in sport management to work as a sport psychology/mental performance consultant with athletic teams. 

3. AMBER LIGGETT ‘18, ‘20M: Meteorology with a minor in Mathematics ‘18, Emergency Management ‘20 & Donor

As an alumna with multiple degrees from Millersville University, Amber Liggett can speak to the standard of education MU provides and the opportunities available to students through One Day Give.  

Liggett graduated in 2018 with a degree in meteorology and a minor in mathematics. In 2020, she earned a master’s degree in emergency management. According to Liggett, MU prepared her for her career. “MU has been instrumental in giving me a detailed understanding of where all I could take my career in both the fields of meteorology and emergency management with guest speakers in seminars and in classes,” she explains. “My professors helped me get into prestigious internships every year in undergrad through letters of recommendation and set me up for success with a graduate assistantship program. Additionally, I had a plethora of hands-on learning opportunities both in undergrad and graduate school, as well, that really enhanced my resume and prepared me for my current career.” Today, Liggett serves as a contractor with the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Program Office’s Communication team. 

Not only has MU prepared Liggett for her career, but the University also helped her attend the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting twice because of One Day Give. “One Day Give provided additional money for me to attend the annual meeting when I was a junior and senior,” shares Liggett. “It also provided additional funds to the Center for Disaster Research and Education when I was a graduate assistant in that office.”  

As someone who has felt the impact of One Day Give, Liggett understands why this day is so important to students. “One Day Give provides students with funding to have more enriched opportunities during their collegiate career,” she says. “Everything is becoming more expensive, including professional development and research opportunities. The money raised during One Day Give makes the difference between one and a handful of students attending conferences, or a student being funded to do the research of their dreams during their undergraduate or graduate career.”  

  1. GREGORY WELLONS ‘78: Psychology ‘78 & Donor

While Gregory Wellons was a student, he joined the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity to give back. “I became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity while at Millersville,” he says. “One of our objectives is to aid downtrodden humanity in its efforts to achieve higher social, economic and intellectual status.” One of the ways Wellons has lived out that mission is by helping to create a scholarship fund specifically for African American/Latino students. “I have seen the impact that giving to the African American/Latino fund has had on students at Millersville,” shares Wellons. “I have spoken to several scholarship recipients, and they expressed how much it has helped them.” 

One Day Give inspires Wellons to give back to the University, as he attributes much of his success in life to his education. “The reason I consistently give to MU One Day is my degree from Millersville has provided me with great success in my life,” he says. “I also believe you should give back to help others.” 

  1. DR. THOMAS NEUVILLE: Professor of Education, Coordinator of Integrated Studies & Donor

As an education professor and the faculty administrator of the integrated studies program, Dr. Thomas Neuville understands the impact giving can have across campus. “Millersville University is a community of the true sense of community,” he says. “A community that is more than simply a group of people living in a particular place. Millersville represents diverse people interacting with a unifying common purpose.” 

Neuville guides his life and decisions on the philosophy of Socrates and believes in giving back to the community. “Socrates also taught that the only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance. We profoundly know this today. Those who have been excluded and made marginalized are welcomed at Millersville and for that, giving is the least I can do.”  

  1. DR. AMBER SESSOMS 06, ‘08M: Psychology ‘06, School Counseling ‘08, Trustee & Donor

As a two-time graduate and a Trustee of the University, Dr. Amber Sessoms has a deep love for Millersville and believes in giving back in many ways. “As a trustee, it’s one of my responsibilities to not only give back of my time but of resources,” she shares. “As a Black alumna, I give to the Intercultural Center during One Day Give in honor of my mentor of many years, Dr. Rita Smith-Wade-El.” As a former scholarship recipient, she also makes a habit of giving to the African American/ Latino Alumni Scholarship. “That scholarship helped me to get my books when I didn’t have enough money,” says Sessoms. 

Sessoms, who served as a school psychologist for many years, now works as the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Natural Inclination LLC, which strives to “support courageous leaders in cultivating liberatory spaces for individuals to be their full, authentic selves.” She says, “My work is so attached to equity and inclusion, but we often stop at equity because we just think about access. But it’s really about affirming the work already done and recognizing that we have staff who want to create a sense of belonging for our students. When I think about being inclusive, one of Millersville’s EPPIIC Values, I want to honor people who are creating inclusive spaces, and that often takes money to sustain the meaningful work.” 

  1. JENN HOUTZ ‘18: Biology, Animal Behavior Option ‘18 & Donor

When Jenn Houtz was an undergraduate at Millersville studying biology, she appeared in several promotional videos for One Day Give. In those videos, she clearly outlined her goals for the future: to become a research professor. At the end of 2022, she fulfilled that goal.  

According to Houtz, it was possible because of her education at MU. “It was such a surreal experience to receive my dream job as an assistant professor of biology at Allegheny College,” she shares. “All my education and research from four years at Millersville and five years at Cornell led to this milestone. My undergrad research advisors were two of the first people I called with the exciting news.” Houtz is also finishing her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University, where she studies how wild animals respond to stressful events like climate change. “My doctoral work aims to identify bioindicators of stress resilience in wild birds, such as hormones,” she explains. 

Undergraduate research was a big part of her experience at Millersville. “When I conducted research at Millersville, I was involved in every aspect of the scientific process, including grant writing, sample collection, data analysis, and communicating my results,” says Houtz. “The small class sizes and passion of the biology faculty for student success equipped me with all the skills I needed to become an independent researcher.”  

Her research even took her outside of the classroom and to South America. “The most valuable part of my undergraduate research was the ability to travel to Ecuador to conduct fieldwork and attend scientific conferences with professors where I could network with other scientists,” she says. “I learned that research is most productive when done in collaboration with others – a philosophy I teach my students now.”  

It’s safe to say that One Day Give directly impacted Houtz, and she says that now is a great time to give back. “Millersville can change lives. My education at Millersville (including the generous research grant funds I was able to apply from various donors) set me on the path to success,” she says. “I wouldn’t trade my experience at Millersville for anything.” 

8. SANTIAGO RAMOS ‘22: Manufacturing Engineering Technology ‘22

Another Millersville student who benefited from the EPPIIC Student Compassion Fund is 2022 graduate Santiago Ramos. He says the funds couldn’t have come at a better time. “It helped me to financially go through what I would say were my toughest days in the past 5 years, financially and mentally,” he shares. “It also made me feel like there were tools I could use to get through economic adversity mixed with the good feeling of knowing that there are people who are willing to help you.” 

Ramos also notes that giving to Millersville students has a real impact. “You could be helping someone who is in real need. A monetary amount that may not be significant to you could greatly impact someone going through a tough time,” he says. “Your donation could be helping someone to accomplish their goals in life.” 

After graduation, Ramos moved to New York City and began working as a project manager for Porcelanosa. “I’m currently being sponsored for an H1B (working) visa, and my goal is to stay in the U.S. for the next few years,” he shares. “I’m happy with where I am and who I am today, and I just want to thank Millersville University for all the support I received. It is a great community.” 

  1. SHELLY BEHRENS ‘21M: Sport Management with an emphasis in Athletic Administration ‘21M & Field Hockey Coach

As the head coach of Millersville University’s Field Hockey Team, Shelly Behrens recognizes the importance of One Day Give. She says the impact has been “immeasurable.” Behrens says, “The generosity and philanthropy of so many has been such a positive for our players and field hockey program overall. It has literally changed lives and I know it will continue to do so!”  

Behrens explains that the money raised for the team during One Day Give impacts the players directly. “It allows me to help our players that are here right now,” she says. “Not all of our players are on scholarships and the gifts made to the team help us to attract higher-profile academic and athletic players.” 

Giving is a personal choice, notes Behrens, but one that can help students for years to come. “I hope that anyone that’s been on the receiving end of a gift or scholarship will consider paying it forward, knowing that their gift to Millersville field hockey will create a ripple effect,” she says.  

Behrens says the amount doesn’t matter. “It could be $5, $20 or $125 or higher.” This year, the field hockey team is asking alumni, fans and family to give $125 over 12 months to have their name engraved on a locker as part of the Morgan Athletic Complex renovation. “That amount gives donors the ability to keep a legacy into the future,” shares Behrens. “During my time at Millersville, many players benefited from the generosity of athletics donors. I hope that these alums and families will step forward and etch their mark as legacy donors for the Morgan Athletic Complex,” Behren says. Mostly, she’s grateful for the support the Millersville community has shown the field hockey team over the years. “Somehow, thank you never seems like enough,” says Behren. 

  1. MEDERNERIS MARTINEZ NUNEZ ‘18:  Social Work ‘18 & Donor

Mederneris Martinez Nunez is a graduate of the social work program who created the Rodriguez Family Award. The award encourages young mothers of color to accomplish their goals.  

Martinez Nunez explains that she created the award because of her experience as a young mother pursuing higher education. “I had a difficult path to graduation as a young mother and as the first-generation college student in my family,” she explains. “I couldn’t have the traditional student’s college experience due to my responsibilities as a mother of two young children. I didn’t have the ability or time to join sports or clubs for the same reason.”  

In 2017, Martinez Nunez received the Marion G. Foster Award, presented annually to a junior social work major for academic excellence under extenuating circumstances. “That award made a huge difference in my life,” she shares. “It helped me financially and encouraged me to keep going.” After receiving the award, Martinez Nunez knew she wanted to impact another student’s life the same way. “As a student, I conducted a literature review and learned through research that at the time, only 2% of young mothers of color actually graduated college.” That idea later became the Rodriguez Family Award. 

Martinez Nunez understands the impact donations have on students and recognizes the importance of One Day Give. “I give to Millersville during One Day Give because I know first-hand the impact that giving to Millersville has on students. Giving to Millersville has a greater impact than words can describe,” she says. “It is an honor to give back to my community and University. A special thanks to the social work department for always being there and for holding me accountable.”  

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