Alums support business students through scholarships, travel experiences
An old baseball coach once taught his players a formula: P + O = S; Preparation plus Opportunity equals Success. David and Pamela Leonard aren’t baseball coaches, but they are using that same formula to help East Carolina University business students become successful.
“I attribute a lot of my success to having a degree from East Carolina,” said David Leonard.
For some college students, spring break means a trip to a sunny beach. Instead of doing just that, 12 ECU risk management and insurance students, two Pitt Community College students, and two ECU professors traveled March 6-9 to Atlanta, Georgia for spring break to meet with the Leonards and tour several insurance companies.
“We actually sat in front of underwriters and claims adjusters and we talked to the CEO of a company instead of learning the textbook definitions,” said ECU senior Kylia Hodge.
Leonard graduated from ECU’s College of Business in 1979. Today, he is chairman and CEO of RSUI Group, Inc., which “is a leading underwriter of wholesale specialty insurance,” according to its website. Together with his wife of 35 years, Pamela, David Leonard has been a longtime supporter of scholarships at ECU.
“While I was at school there, there were some people who helped me out with tuition and expenses and I felt like I wanted to give back in that manner,” said David Leonard.
Beyond scholarships, the Leonards have also given to the College of Business Leadership Program to support student travel like this year’s spring break trip to Atlanta. The entire trip from the chartered bus to the hotel rooms, and meals for the students was made possible by the Leonards’ generosity.
“I liked the way it involves students and gets them involved in leadership activities, and I thought a lot of the skills they are learning and the way it’s being presented goes right back to things that make them more successful in life and in business, so I liked funding that,” said David Leonard.
While in Atlanta, the students had dinner with the Leonards, had a tour of RSUI Group from their CEO tour guide, toured Zurich North America, and on the way home, toured the Institute for Business and Home Safety’s Research Laboratory in South Carolina.
“When you get to personally have multiple one-on-one conversations with the CEO of an amazing company, it really does shine a different light to the students. It gives us the sense of you know that he’s really invested and he really does care about whether we succeed or not,” said ECU senior Lindsey Albaugh.
“I saw the Pirate pride that he has, not just ‘Go Pirates,’ the personality, the work ethic… to actually see an ECU alumnus be successful and be able to give back to the school that he got his training from is kind of inspirational and gives you hope,” Hodge added.