By: Jett Reed
While the students are at the forefront of SVSLI, there are several people behind the scenes working to ensure that the students have the best possible opportunities for success. One person in particular is SVSLI’s Board of Directors Chair, Paul Burkholder. I asked him some questions regarding his thoughts on being apart of the SVSLI organization.
JR: Can you tell me a bit about your role at SVSLI, and maybe when you went to college?
PB: I am in my first year of a two-year stint as Chairman of the Board. I am also a founding board member at SVSLI. In my professional life, I am a Senior Vice President Private Client Group, Wells Fargo Advisors. I graduated from VMI (Virginia Military Institute) in 1980 with a BSCE.
JR: What led you to the SVSLI?
PB: I found SVSLI via Phil Helmuth from EMU (Eastern Mennonite University). Phil serves on our board. We rely heavily on his council in fund raising matters.
JR: What expectations did you have going into the SVSLI organization?
PB: My expectations for SLI fall exactly in line with what the organization was originally formed to do. That is, identify students of high calibre, mentor and prepare them for college, find colleges that can accept them, and help the scholars financially. We aim at kids who do not have the resources to navigate the system nor a family history of going to college. It’s a quantum leap in just one generation to go from no college history to a college graduate. Awesome really and speaks to the value added to our society thru education.
JR: What have you learned about the organization since joining?
PB: What have I learned? More than I can type! I’ve learned how dedicated and giving our educators are. I’ve learned of how wonderful EMU and EMU grads are. The school and its grads lead by example. There is so much substance to what EMU produces. I’ve re-learned that you can’t hold people down. I’ve re-learned that a diverse board of committed players is the key to the success of any organization. I could go on, but suffice it to say this has been joyful work with lots of learning opportunities.
JR: How do you think the organization can improve and move forward with its future?
PB: We are a flexible organization in terms of trying new things and reaching out, but we need more volunteers and we need donors. Having more people committed to the future of these young scholars and developing our own economic well-being is key to the success of the organization.