Stronger Together

November 13, 2018

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They are young and in the early stages of their careers. Some say this is their way of giving back. Others think in terms of paying it forward. Either way, they are relatively recent graduates of Canisius College who share a common belief in supporting alma mater.

As young alumni at the onset of their lives and career paths, the Canisius graduates featured here are all members of the college’s Leadership Society. They each donated to Canisius at giving levels modified for young alums, enabling them to become members while supporting the school’s annual, endowment and capital funds. Their generosity shows the importance of every donation and the collective impact that results.

And while they all graduated in different class years, the Leadership Society and its annual events brought this small group of alumni together not just as donors with a shared interest in Canisius but as newfound friends, working together to advance alma mater for the next generation. 

Danielle Giancarlo ’14 is a CPA with PwC in Buffalo and majored in accounting and accounting information systems at Canisius. For Giancarlo, becoming a member of the Leadership Society is only natural and another way she stays connected to the college. As a student, she was actively involved as a member of the Undergraduate Student Association, serving as senator and vice president of business and finance, and vice president of the Accounting Society. “I feel it is important to give back because Canisius has done so much for me, in terms of my education and even now beyond the classroom,” Giancarlo says. “Our firm recruits Canisius students and faculty connections continue to be important resources for me in my career.”

Brock Wilkinson ’14 was a former president of student government at Canisius and says his involvement gave him a distinct perspective on how an educational institution is run. With a dual major in economics and finance, he also understood the importance of alumni support. “Young alumni like myself are just the tip of the huge iceberg of Canisius graduates who support the school, and it all adds up,” he explains. Now working with CitiGroup in Buffalo, Wilkinson directs his support to the Blue & Gold Fund. “Each time I donate, I see it as an expression of my appreciation for the time I spent at Canisius.”

Timothy Kucinski ’12 studied abroad in Ireland while a student at Canisius majoring in English and communications. “That was a huge opportunity for me, so I feel like I am paying it forward for a Canisius student in the future when I donate,” Kucinski says. Currently an attorney with Phillips Lytle LLP in Buffalo, Kucinski directs his support to the English Department at Canisius, noting that his studies prepared him well for law school at Washington and Lee University and beyond. “Canisius was very good to me and I am very grateful to be in a position to give – it feels like the right thing to do,” Kucinski says.

Sean Balkin ’11, MBA ‘12 ran cross country at Canisius, experiencing the student athlete life while studying for a degree in chemistry. “One of the things I loved most about Canisius was the bonds formed with other students, in the chemistry program and on the team,” he recalls. “I didn’t realize it then but I was learning about working with other people – that was so important in school, law school and now in my career.” An attorney with Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman in Buffalo, Balkin says he received a generous scholarship as a student and now hopes his support can help someone else in a similar way. “My goal in giving is to help make Canisius the best it can be so other students can have the opportunity for a well-rounded education,” he explains.

Thomas Vivian ’11, MBA ‘13 is a senior financial advisor with Merrill Lynch and part of a group that has more than $500 million in assets under management. A finance major, he remembers his professors at Canisius applying real-world experiences to their teaching, which was critical to his understanding money markets and institutions. “I played lacrosse, which made for a hectic schedule but the faculty was always there to help me one-on-one – I wasn’t just a number,” he says. “I want to give back to the people who helped me get to where I am.” Vivian explains that he hopes his donation goes toward a scholarship that might help a student choose Canisius over another school and thus have the same experience.

Laura Basil O’Shea ’10 MBA worked at the Women’s Business Center at Canisius while she earned her graduate degree at the school. She notes that her studies and work with entrepreneurs and consultants at the center provided the foundation in organizational development that she relies on today. Basil is currently director of recruiting and talent development for the Basil family of automobile dealerships, with more than 850 employees in Western New York. “Giving back to Canisius helps me remember how my education there gave me the skills to prosper in a field that is always changing,” she explains. “There will be new hurdles for future generations of students to overcome – some who may come work for our company – so I am glad to give my time and donations to support Canisius.”