A Gift Inspired By Gratitude & Ambition

The Baxter Scholarship Fund

By Jady Ojiri, Office of Development Communications Posted Wed, 07/14/2021 - 14:09

According to Jeffrey Baxter ’83 and Diane Kounalakis-Baxter ’84, the call to give all starts with a single question: where can we make the biggest impact? For the Baxters, the answer was the USF School of Management Honors Program. With the support of the Baxters’ major gift to establish the Baxter Scholarship Fund, the School of Management Honors Program can now offer scholarships directly to its students for the first time since the program was originally established in 2005. 

Each year, qualified students are invited to apply to the Honors Program during the Spring semester of their freshman year and undergo a rigorous selection process. Separate from the university’s Honors College, the program is specifically designed to recognize high-achieving undergraduate students within the School of Management. 

Inspired by the Jesuit value of cura personalis, care for the whole person, chosen students are given the essential tools to develop into well-rounded, critical thinking citizens. In addition to enrolling in Honors business core courses, they engage in several enrichment experiences, including industry tours, networking events, national conferences, service activities, and more. 

Nicole Nguyen, the director of the Honors Program, stated, “Faculty and staff administrators from around the country are always so impressed with our students. They commend the students’ ability to share their ideas fluently and to execute those ideas, and I have always been very proud of that.”  

“It’s an honor for our students to receive a gift like the Baxter Scholarship that is specifically catered to their undergraduate efforts,” Nguyen added. 

The Gift of Gratitude 

This isn’t the first donation the Baxters have made to the university, however. In fact, they have made several philanthropic contributions, within and beyond USF, throughout the years.  

“USF really emphasizes to its students that they each have their own impact, and whether it’s small or large, it doesn’t matter. It’s something. I think the students carry that with them. So we really believe in the importance of giving because our gifts can inspire others to give, and we want to lead by example,” Kounalakis-Baxter said.

Giving to the Honors Program was particularly important to Baxter because he was a part of Alpha Sigma Nu, one of the university’s Honor Societies, and a graduate of the School of Management. 

In addition to their monetary donation, Baxter and Kounalakis-Baxter, a Deloitte Partner and Public Relations Consultant respectively, hope to connect directly with students and impart the knowledge they have gained throughout the years. 

“Jesuit beliefs, coming from beyond the religious aspect, is really about involvement. It’s about paying forward, and it’s about sharing with others what you know,” Baxter said. “I still, to this day, think about how USF was a significant piece of where I am and where our family is today, so I do anything I can to give back.” 

Supporting the Next Generation

With the guidance of the program’s faculty, its alumni network, and the other resources made available to him, Kenneth Cacacho ’21, Honors Program president and recent graduate of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, has led an undergraduate career filled with success. 

His most recent achievement? A full-time job offer to work at Adobe, a position that he will begin this summer. Cacacho thanked the Honors Program for instilling the values and drive needed to secure an internship with the Adobe Sales Academy and ultimately prove himself capable of a full-time position with the company. 

The Baxter Scholarship Fund will enable the Honors Program to expand even further and provide much-needed support to students pursuing professional careers like Cacacho. 

“I am grateful that alumni and donors are seeing what the School of Management Honors program is, what we’re all about, and what we can accomplish. This gift expands what we have the potential to do. The Honors Program keeps growing, and I know this is just the beginning,” Cacacho said.  

To support students like Cacacho, consider making a gift in support of the School of Management Honors Program and Changing the World From Here: Campaign for the University of San Francisco