Jon Soldner ’07 received a degree in mechanical engineering and is a senior applications engineer for Donaldson Company Inc. He and his wife give to St. Thomas every year.
We give to St. Thomas for a few reasons, the first and foremost being that my wife and I believe in paying it forward. I was lucky enough to receive academic scholarships, which, in conjunction with loans and some help from my parents, enabled me to be able to afford the cost of St. Thomas. Without those scholarships, I would not have had the financial capability to attend, and my life would have been quite different.
Giving even a small amount can help the university to keep the costs of attendance low and can help fund scholarships like the one I received. My wife and I have been blessed with great opportunities in our lives, and paying those blessings forward is important to us both.
Another major reason why we give, and why specifically to the men's and women's swimming and diving teams, is that I firmly believe that being a member of the men’s team during my time at UST is a big part of why I graduated. During my sophomore year, I suffered from depression due to the death of my grandmother before the start of the school year. Coach Tom Hodgson as well as my teammates were supportive and helped me to pull through and get the help I needed to get back on track. Being a member of that team had a profound impact on my life, and I'm not sure that I would have found the support that I received from the team, my professors, and the university as a whole, if I had been a student at a different school. Giving is important to me because I want to ensure that there are opportunities for students to be part of teams that will shape their lives for the better.
Lastly, we give because it offers a connection to my alma mater and offers opportunities for my wife and I connect with other wonderful UST alumni, which is wonderful as we are both Minnesota transplants from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Why am I a sustainer?
I'm a sustainer because it allows me to set a reasonable giving plan that is seamless to my daily life. I set a specific monthly amount that isn't outside of my available budget, and St. Thomas then deducts that from my checking account once a month. It’s win-win: Small amounts over time add up to a larger amount for the university, and I am not stuck writing a big, one-time check. The other benefit is that UST knows that it has a set amount coming in for a fixed commitment time, which helps them to better plan for the future.