Mario Hicks, ’09, transferred to Buffalo State in 2006 to study English and participate in track and field. A first-generation college student from Corning, New York, he shone in the classroom and on the field. In 2013, he was inducted into the Buffalo State Athletics Hall of Fame.
Now he’s playing a behind-the-scenes role on campus that allows students to shine by providing them with needed scholarships. Hired as the director of annual giving last June, he’s heading up this year’s Faculty and Staff Appeal.
He said it’s been an excellent opportunity not only to help students but also to get to know faculty and staff, to learn how the various departments work, and to see what funds and scholarships inspire people to give.
“As a student at Buffalo State, I was a big fan of my professors. I was in awe of some of them, what they had accomplished and how dedicated they were to teaching,” Hicks said. “Now I’m on the other side seeing that faculty members are just as big of fans of students. They want to help them. That’s why they give to the appeal.”
Begun on campus in 1988, the appeal has become interwoven into the campus culture. The appeal envelopes that faculty and staff receive in early March are meant to encourage a spirit of philanthropy, Hicks said, even if that means giving just a few dollars every pay period.
“No gift is too small and every little bit helps,” said Hicks, who previously served as the director of development at Trocaire College after earning his master’s in business administration from the University of New Haven. He also worked as a district executive with the Greater Niagara Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts and as a camp counselor and supervisor at Cradle Beach, which provides a seven-to-ten day summer camp experience for children with disabilities and those living in poverty.
“Fundraising came to me through my experience at Cradle Beach,” Hicks said. “I noticed that people of means and representatives from foundations visited the camp to see children at play. I got interested in what inspired people to give.”
He said the love of literature and reading that he pursued as a student also figured into his fundraising career.
“I think philanthropy is a good career if you like to hear about people’s passions,” he said. “Giving overall is not just transactional. It’s also voicing your passion or belief in something. The more you talk to someone the more you understand what inspires them.”
There’s still time for you to contribute to any of the many scholarships and funds included within the 2016 Faculty and Staff Appeal, which runs through May 6.
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