Helping people help themselves: James Wright, ’14, MBA ’17

Recent graduate’s passion for empowering others leads to a new scholarship

Helping people help themselves. That’s the credo of James Wright, ’14, MBA ’17. He credits his support system and mentors at Davenport University for his success. And they’re the reason he is giving back to help future students.

“I am so thankful for the support that I received,” Wright said. “I want to help the next generation of students at Davenport. I’m really passionate about empowering people and equipping them with the resources they need like my mentors did for me.”

In 2017, Wright and his family established the Wright Family Endowed Scholarship. He says the scholarship is an investment in future generations and hopes it creates a pathway to success for those who receive it.

“I was motivated to give back to Davenport for countless reasons,” Wright said. “Though my parents never directly talked about giving back, they led by example. Our family always supported local community charities and church, whether it was through a donation or volunteering. It was part of our family culture.”

The place to be

Wright has been connected with Davenport for nearly his entire life through his lifelong friendship with Josh Volk, son of DU Chief Financial Officer Mike Volk.

Mike Volk has been a strong mentor to Wright, helping him with important life and career decisions and sparking his passion for DU at an early age.

“When it was time for me to go to college, Davenport was the first and only place I wanted to go,” Wright said. “As a kid, I remember visiting Davenport with Mr. Volk. My career aspirations mirrored his, so I went to him for advice. Everyone at Davenport was friendly and caring. I knew Davenport was the place where I wanted to be.”

Wright found success in the Finance program and completed two internships while completing his degree. At Priority Health, he worked in the financial planning and analyst department where he gained hands-on experience reviewing insurance payments. At State Street Bank in Kansas City, Missouri, he assisted in servicing hedge funds.

From DU to Kellogg’s

Wright’s education and internship experiences, coupled with summer jobs in manufacturing, made him a perfect candidate for the newly created finance team at Kellogg’s offices in Grand Rapids. He earned a spot on the team as a finance associate in 2016, where he supports the manufacturing plants in Battle Creek, Michigan, and Belleville, Ontario.

“I am on the Morning Foods business unit, which means the breakfast team,” Wright said. “We do cost analysis for products, such as Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts, to ensure we control costs for our business unit. I help with posting month-end journal entries, analyzing cost savings projects, developing innovation-costing templates and performing cost analysis on products. Every day I learn something new.”

The scholarship is not Wright’s first time giving back to the university that helped pave the path for his successful career at a global company with products in more than 180 countries. Wright also stepped up as one of the many donors who gave to support the Donald W. Maine College of Business Building.

“Investing in infrastructures like the Donald W. Maine Business Building and scholarships are two ways to equip students with resources they need for success,” he said. “My journey is a great example of others investing in the foundation needed to help get me where I am today.”

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