One day may not seem like much time to make a difference, but for Georgia Southern, it can.
Just ask Aleyna Rentz and Dylan John — two Georgia Southern students who have directly benefited from funds raised during the annual A Day for Southern giving campaign.
Now in its 43rd year, the one-day campaign, is set for Tuesday and helps raise funds for the university to help cover costs not funded by state dollars such as scholarships, faculty development, championship athletics and cultural programs.
Rentz, a Bainbridge, Ga., native, has found in Georgia Southern a place where not only she, but also two of her siblings, can express their creativity, gain valuable experiences in their fields of study and have the freedom to pursue their dreams.
Dreaming of studying abroad was something that excited Rentz, but as one of seven children, “the idea of spending the summer in another country at my parents’ expense while my siblings stayed home struck me as kind of selfish,” she said.
“But I decided to apply for the Honors Program Study Abroad Scholarship, and if I worked hard on the application essay, I figured maybe it would work out. As it turns out, I was right,” she said. “That May, I packed my suitcase for two weeks in Ireland for the inaugural Honors Inquiry in Ireland Study Abroad Program.”
While there she was able to conduct primary research and utilize resources in various archives that are rarely accessible by undergraduates, including Ireland’s National Archives in Dublin.
“I didn’t think I’d get to study abroad at all, but thanks to a scholarship on behalf of the University Honors Program, I was able to conduct and present research to an international audience – all as a freshman.”
John is another student with international ties who has benefited from the campaign. A native of Sri Lanka, John came to America to study, and he completed his undergraduate degree in May 2016 at Georgia Southern, where he is continuing his studies in applied engineering while also serving as the university’s Student Government Association president.
“As an international student from Sri Lanka, studying in the United States of America has not been easy,” he said. “Besides not being able to understand some of the lingo, the language, and what you call ‘biscuits’ and I call ‘cookies,’ there are also other challenges — financial constraints, challenges of foreign exchange rates, growing living expenses and other financial obligations. However, I was blessed — blessed by those who supported and willingly give, and blessed by those who encouraged others to give.”
Not only does the campaign benefit the members of the Georgia Southern campus community, it also connects Georgia Southern with Statesboro, Bulloch County and the surrounding areas.
“It is such an honor to serve as the chair of A Day for Southern this year. Georgia Southern University has been an integral part of this community since its inception,” said Ashley Hines Ellis, Georgia Southern alumna and executive vice president of BBWH Insurors in Statesboro. “Not only does Georgia Southern have a direct impact on the economics of our community, but it certainly adds to the quality of life we've all grown to cherish here in Statesboro.
Ellis, a leader in the community, is also a graduate of the 2000 Leadership Bulloch class and served as its 2012 chairman. She also is a graduate of the Southeast Leadership Georgia Program and a graduate of the Georgia Economic Development Academy.
Funds raised not only help Georgia Southern enhance programs that attract and support research and scholarships, they also provide learning and cultural experiences through the university’s various outreach centers. Supporters of A Day for Southern are encouraged to give to the areas at the university for which they are most passionate, whether it is a scholarship fund, a college within the University, athletics or one of a variety of student programs and services.
Gifts can be made through GeorgiaSouthern.edu/ADFS.