Donor Spotlight

Giving Back Spotlight: Jana O’Brien

CAS Alumni Board Member Jana O’Brien has set up an internship fund for advertising students so that they can pursue their career dreams. Often, internships are unpaid, located in expensive locations or require travel funds. O’Brien’s contribution has helped countless students pursue their dream internships.

“I honestly attribute a lot of my career success to my summer internship experience at BBDO in Detroit the summers of 1977-1978. It is so gratifying to see that students have been able to find similar opportunities in the midst of our challenging economic times and also to know that my small donations helped them take advantage of those opportunities,” O’Brien said.

Scholarship Spotlight: George Katsarelas Endowed Memorial Scholarship

Creative. Someone who took a chance on others. A mentor. A family man. Smart, passionate. Great sense of humor.

These were among the 1,000 qualities that people loved about George Katsarelas (BA ’82 Advertising) – permanent remembrances on a wall in the Leo Burnett Detroit office, where Katsarelas worked for many years as a creative leader.

When Katsarelas passed away in June 2009, his colleagues in the office sought a special way to remember a very special colleague.

They created a remembrance wall and made it blue to symbolize one of Katsarelas’ last projects: a pro bono effort for the Detroit Public Schools. They planted an apple tree, symbolic of the Leo Burnett culture. But they wanted to go even further to keep his memory alive. The result? They established the MSU George Katsarelas Endowed Memorial Scholarship.

Leo Burnett Detroit contributed $30,000 to set up the scholarship endowment with the CAS Advancement Office. The scholarship benefits MSU advertising students.

Giving Back Spotlight: Larry Lee

Whether it is aiding students to gain experiences around the globe or supporting the artistic culture with the community, Larry Lee (BA ’70 Journalism) is doing his part to help MSU thrive. Lee has made a future gift to the School of Journalism in support of study abroad scholarships and tot eh Wharton Center’s general endowment, making him a member of the Snyder Society.

Lee has been actively involved with the college as an alumnus and donor, and served on the School of Journalism Centennial Committee. Through his career he worked for Gongwer News Service, a state level, political news source that operates services in Michigan and Ohio. Lee eventually became one of three principle owners in the company and attributes his success to his MSU background.

“I benefited from hard-nosed training in the School of Journalism and an academic adviser, Mary Gardner, whose exacting standards and common sense approach helped to set a long-term guide. The State News provided professional grade experience, the chance to cover critical events in the turbulent 1960s and connected me to the job I held throughout my career beginning after graduation,” Lee said.

Lee was eager to give back to his fellow Spartans as an alumnus.

“I am impressed by the challenges today’s students face with tuition and costs of attending college at such a high level compared to what they are able to earn,” Lee said.

As an individual who appreciates the diversity of cultures and enjoys traveling the world, Lee wanted to help others share these passions through his donations.

“Now, the university is rightfully encouraging a wide range of study abroad experiences in recognition that we are influencing and are influenced by cultures everywhere on a daily basis. My gift is specifically designated to assist students pursuing those study abroad opportunities.”

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