Leading by Example

Senior year at NC State University can be filled with coursework, job searches, graduate school applications and preparations for the next big step after graduation.

But for Tyler Ligon, it hasn’t been too full to think about the university that helped him reach this point in his life, and the ways he can give back.

Ligon is president of the Poole College of Management’s Student Philanthropy Council. When the student members of the council challenged one another to recruit 10 classmates to give on NC State’s Student Giving Day on March 29, Ligon stepped up and set a goal to recruit 60 classmates.

“Since I was appointed president this year, I felt I really needed to set an example for the rest of the council members,” Ligon said. “I needed to set the tone and really get them to ask.”

His effort seems to have worked, too. Each of Ligon’s fellow council members have presented a list of at least 10 classmates – and in many cases, more than 10 – to recruit for this year’s giving initiative, said Vicki Rennecker-Nakayoshi, director of alumni relations and special events for the Poole College of Management (PCOM).

Ligon said the effort is about ensuring that future NC State students have the same positive experience he has had, or an even better experience thanks to more resources. He noted that student tuition doesn’t come close to covering the cost of operating the university on an annual basis

“It’s donors like us – whether students, alumni or others – it’s really up to us to make sure NC State becomes an even bigger powerhouse.”

Rennecker-Nakayoshi said Ligon’s commitment and passion have ignited similar sentiments in his fellow students.

“He’s really leading, and setting those examples, which is fantastic,” she said. “Others are more motivated because of his leadership.”

The PCOM Student Philanthropy Council was the brainchild of former Dean Ira Weiss, Rennecker-Nakayoshi said. It began in 2015 and, at the time, there was no universitywide council.

In 2016, the group held its first student giving challenge, with the goal of committing 100 PCOM students to giving. That year, 148 students committed.

This year, the council’s goal is 200 students, but Ligon believes it will easily surpass that goal.

In addition to their pledge to ask 10 classmates to give, the council members, under Ligon’s leadership, launched a collegewide campaign to encourage student philanthropy. They’ve spent time speaking to students in the classes they attend and ramping up their social media presence. Council members produced a video about giving, which they asked professors to show in their classes. They’ve talked to clubs and fraternities to which they belong, and will have a table set up at the college on March 28 and 29, with activities planned to go along with the student giving day.

“Sometimes it can be hard to ask,” Ligon said. “Some people don’t think it’s worthwhile – that their money doesn’t matter.”

“I try to explain that any amount makes a difference – whether that’s five dollars, 10 dollars or 20 dollars – when collectively we all, as a student body, give back.”

He talks to his classmates about how the addition of cutting-edge technology, the recruitment of the best faculty and the increased professional opportunities offered to students – all of which are bolstered by private giving – raise PCOM’s ranking as a business school and make its graduates more attractive to recruiters.

Ligon grew up in Raleigh and his mom is an NC State alumna. When it came time to look at colleges, NC State was at the top of his list.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” Ligon said. “I knew I would receive a top-notch education.”

He is the recipient of the Michael and Deborah Hensley Scholarship, and notably, his twin brother, Brian, is also a PCOM senior and the recipient of a Wells Fargo Undergraduate Scholarship. Both brothers have already been admitted into the Jenkins Master of Accounting program for this fall, and both plan to attend.

While Ligon said his scholarship helped, it wasn’t the deciding factor in attending NC State. He was swayed by the feel of the campus and the student body, the resources the university offered and the commitment of the faculty.

“The professors really go the extra mile, whether it’s inside the classroom or outside the classroom, to really help you reach your next step,” he said.

In his nearly four years at NC State thus far, Ligon said his passion for the university has grown, and that’s what led him to the Student Philanthropy Council.

“When you first come here to NC State, you hear the term philanthropy and you kind of get scared away because you don’t know what it means,” he said. “Really, it’s about giving back, even in a small way, for something you really care about.”

Ligon said his hope is that as his classmates head off into their careers, they won’t forget their roots at NC State.

“Really reflect on your time here as a student, and look around at the countless opportunities and great experiences you’ve had here,” Ligon said. “Don’t you want to give back to this wonderful school so that future students can have the same kind of opportunities you did – and hopefully better opportunities because of the money we all raised?”