Why I Give: Matthew Ruark ’09

Hometown: Brooksville, Ky.
Education: B.A., Political Science, Kentucky Wesleyan College
                    M.A., Indiana University, Philanthropic Studies

Why do you give to Wesleyan?

By giving back, I pay tribute to those who gave to Wesleyan so I could attend. I want to help people, just as I was helped. It means a lot to me to return the favor to other students, and I want others to have a remarkable, life-changing experience, just like I did.

I have given a gift every month since I graduated, and I know I make a difference to my alma mater and to our students in helping provide scholarships to students from all walks of life.

Why do you encourage others to give?

Every gift counts, and every gift helps. I encourage fellow young alumni to give, even if they can give only a small amount now. Small amounts add up. It is rewarding to give back, and I believe we all have a responsibility to invest in Wesleyan because so many people in the Wesleyan community invested in us.

Why did you attend Wesleyan?

I applied to a number of colleges/universities and decided on a large state university. In July, I got a call from a Wesleyan admission counselor, and then I received a note in the mail from an alumna, Luellen Pyles ’44, who lived near my hometown. She encouraged me to enroll, and she got my attention. The financial package was appealing, and the letter from Ms. Pyles tipped the scales. So I enrolled at Wesleyan sight unseen and never looked back. That decision changed my life.

Describe your experiences as a Wesleyan student.

I was a political science major, and Dr. Bill Conroy was an excellent mentor. He was tough, and I learned that I had to know my stuff before I walked into his classroom. He taught me to write and speak, and I’ll always have that. My favorite class was “Women in Christianity.” Stephanie Curran was the professor. She was a great teacher, and learning about woman who were leaders, and even martyrs, through the centuries was fascinating.

The trip to New York City during spring break was spectacular. It was a long way from Bracken County.

My entire Wesleyan experience expanded my worldview, and I started thinking globally and far beyond my own little corner of the world.

I encountered many challenges in the classroom, and though I felt uncomfortable at the time, I look back and see how valuable those challenges were. I learned to think and to understand others, and I was surrounded by people who mentored and cared for me.

My favorite memory of my student years was walking across the stage when I received my degree. Luellen Pyles, who encouraged me to attend Wesleyan four years earlier, handed me my diploma. I will never forget her or that moment.

Why did you choose to stay on campus and accept a job here after graduation?

First of all, I love the College. I felt a need to give back, and I wanted to work with the people who helped shape me and cared for me as a student.

I love sharing my own Wesleyan story with prospective students. I see in them who I was as a high school student, and I know I can connect with them and share how Wesleyan can change their lives.