Sheri Salata, former executive producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show, speaks at the Pomerantz Center on Thursday, April 27. Salata is a graduate of the UI, speaking for Life with Phil. (The Daily Iowan/Ben Smith)

Guzman: PHIL Week: “Without philanthropy, I would not be here”

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Without philanthropy, I would not be here. The generosity of donors has opened doors to countless opportunities, and one of the greatest has been the ability to study at the University of Iowa.

I am always in awe of those who choose to invest in the education of students. These generous people not only invest in education but also in futures. They motivate us students to achieve our academic goals, become involved in extracurricular activities, and make a positive impact on campus. Such experiences from our undergraduate years lead us to form professional and personal goals for our journeys into postgraduation life.

RELATED: UI’s fifth-annual We Are Phil Week raising money for nine campaigns

Sheri Salata, the former vice president of the Oprah Winfrey Network and keynote speaker for the Life with Phil talk last spring, is someone who has influenced my appreciation of philanthropy. She has encouraged many women to continue having a strong presence at the university through her Sheri Salata Women Who Lead Scholarship. Her Life with Phil conversation — with Lynette Marshall, the president and CEO of the University of Iowa Center for Advancement — struck a chord with me. Sheri said philanthropy does not have to be monetary; philanthropy is about providing goodness to others and helping someone in whatever way you can, whether it be helping a neighbor with groceries or brightening a friend’s day with a smile.

As a recipient of Sheri’s scholarship, I had the honor of introducing her at the Life with Phil keynote event last spring. In my introduction, I asked the audience members to reflect on how they got to college, why they were there, and where they wanted to be in the future. There are people behind each of these questions. Donors such as Sheri make our journeys to, and beyond, the university possible. Without the support of donors who wished to see students succeed, I would not be here. I strive to be like these wonderful people, so that I, too, can help support the educational experiences of ambitious students.

– Rita Guzman

Class of 2018

RELATED: Guest Opinion: What does it mean to be PHIL at Iowa?

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