Student expresses gratitude to Heritage donors

Student expresses gratitude to Heritage donors

Among Heidelberg’s family of valued donors are the 270 members of the Heritage Society who have collectively come forward to leave a legacy by designating the university in their estate plans.

Their thoughtful gestures change students’ lives by personally investing in the Heidelberg educational experience in many and varied ways. One of those students, Zachery Hunter, who completed his degree in three years and graduated in May, expressed shared his impressive Heidelberg journey and his personal gratitude to the Heritage Society members at their annual dinner Thursday night. He represented ‘Berg students with the following remarks at the dinner.


Good evening ladies and gentleman, Trustees, President Huntington, and especially, members of the Heritage Society. My name is Zachery Hunter and it is a pleasure to meet you all. During my time at the ‘Berg, I was a baseball-playing-philosophy-major with aspirations to attend law school. I can now happily say, after three hard years of studying, I will be attending law school at The Ohio State University and I am a Heidelberg alumnus. And for me, within the foundation of both of those statements lies the true beauty of attending such a fantastic institution—and that is being able to take pride in being an alum of a place that epitomizes a welcoming family atmosphere and cultivates excellence for every individual in their pursuits.


It was during my first encounter with Heidelberg that I recognized an opportunity to be a part of that type of culture. As many students do, I had my own checklist of things that were important to me as I made my college decision. Admittedly, baseball was near the top of that list. However, with hopes to be a student athlete, I kept in mind just how often “transferring” from schools occurred. Even though baseball was extremely important to me, to avoid this from happening, above all, I sought one factor: a place that felt like home. When my dad and I drove through campus on my visit, it was easy to fall in love with the stunning architecture and beautiful buildings that surrounded us. Walking through campus each day, even today, and seeing The HeidelBean!, or the updates in Pfleiderer still evoke this same emotion. But on that day, it was the individuals who I spoke with that solidified this as the place for my future home.


I first talked with admission counselor Adam Hine, who spoke intently about what made this place’s academic opportunities, like the PlusOneAdvantage® MBA Tuition-Free Scholarship, so special. Then I spent time with my tour guide, Derek Hug, who I soon figured out had a great chance of getting chosen in the upcoming MLB Draft while aspiring to be a future medical student. And then there was head baseball coach Chad Fitzgerald, who had led the baseball team to an NCAA regional tournament appearance but also emphasized how the team maintained a dedication to helping the community. When I reflected on what Adam, Derek, and Coach Fitz said, they seemed to relay one overwhelming message to me: Heidelberg was the place where I could reach my fullest potential. To hear of this support and challenge was actually comforting to me and this was enough to get me to enroll.


Imagine that, somehow a town that was literally only comprised of a Wal-Mart, a Buffalo Wild Wings, and a soon-to-be Chipotle was the place that I said “Say no more, I’m sold.” But as time progressed, I understood more and more that in comparison to the memories, relationships, and the impact on others that this place fosters, these truly were only minute details.


In the past three years, Heidelberg has offered me countless opportunities to grow academically and more importantly, as an individual. First, I should mention the HYPE Career Ready® Program. Having the privilege to hear speakers with diverse stories and backgrounds inspire us and teach values and skills applicable in a career setting is something that helps me each day, even now, during my internship at Title First Agency in Columbus. 


Next, being a part of the Honors Program allowed me to become a critical thinker while also being committed to service. I will never forget my experience as a tutor during my Citizen seminar at Bridges Community Academy, just down the road, and realizing how difficult it actually was to help a young student learn arithmetic when I had taken these skills as second nature for so long. This experience, just like so many others here, forced me to approach a problem in a way that expanded my own horizons and challenged me to account for others.


And how could I ever forget my 30 page final honors project and presentation. By the time the semester was over, that experience was the last thing I ever wanted to relive. But now more than ever, I am so thankful for the tremendous faculty here like Dr. Daryl Close, Dr. Emily Isaacson, and Dr. Helena Theixos, among all the other professors, who helped me to conquer a task that I viewed as so daunting. It is because of them that I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying the research along the way.


Finally, I want to talk more about my experience as a student-athlete on the baseball team. Before coming here, I had never felt such a strong brotherhood. As a team, we faced so much adversity but one simple principle stayed true regardless of whether the outcome was a win or a loss, and that was our care for one another. At the beginning of the year, no player could downplay the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season as we had lost seven out of our nine daily starters. But it was the long days of conditioning, the 4 a.m. practices, and a selfless attitude to help one another that led us all the way to the College World Series right after graduation. Seeing the awesome support of current students, staff, faculty, and alumni who followed our path along the way, perfectly embodies what the baseball program, and Heidelberg as a whole, stands for.


It is my absolute pleasure to have spent three years as a part of this. It is because of each one of these experiences that I now feel more prepared than ever to take on the next chapter of my life and beyond.


Now some may wonder, “What instills this tradition of being so welcoming and so successful?” My answer is simple: It is each one of you, it is every person who attended this institution and who gives back by providing this same opportunity for all others. At one time, each of us was a student, but forever we are alumni. And it is this exact role all of you have embraced and upheld that allows Heidelberg to continue to be extraordinary by providing so many opportunities for each student to grow. Without you and your care for each one of us, absolutely nothing that I mentioned would have been possible. I speak for all of my classmates, teammates and myself when I say “Thank you.”

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