Andy Verlengia (JO ‘02) is currently a Major Gifts Officer in the Office of Development at Drake.
- Plant – What person did you meet at Drake that had the biggest impact on your life, and what would you say to them today to thank them?
Dr. Wanda Everage. I was lucky to know Dr. Everage throughout my undergraduate studies at Drake. Aside from being incredibly warm and welcoming, which she was with everyone, I had her for a Race & Ethnicities course. Wanda taught us to ask questions and challenge our own thinking and personal bias. Her ability to connect with students on a personal level, while openly discussing difficult topics was mind opening. That class stands out in my mind as to one of the hallmarks of my time at Drake. The discussions we had have stayed with me and have served as a filter in both my personal and professional life along with helping me navigate current events. Dr. Everage is a truly wonderful human being who embraced not only the power of learning but of truly connecting with students. She is the shining example of the ‘Drake experience.
- Nourish – What were you involved in at Drake that had the biggest impact on your life, and how did it help you grow and develop into who you are today?
I thoroughly enjoyed my time working on the Drake Relays broadcasts each spring. Being part of what was then (and may still be) the largest student run broadcast production in the country was a source of pride for so many of us. The experience of working with a team and being a part of something bigger than yourself was vital to my personal growth. The other formative experience outside the classroom was my Fraternity involvement. The experience of learning to work with and ultimately lead peers has proven incredibly beneficial throughout my career.
Learning how to gain support for change, navigating difficult experiences and bringing together different people with different backgrounds and ideas have all impacted me.
- Flourish – What is something that you’ve always dreamed of accomplishing and were able to accomplish as a result of your Drake experience, and how did your Drake experience prepare you/help you do that?
I have always been passionate about athletics and wanted to be around them. From having the opportunity to intern with the Drake Sports Information office, to working on the Drake Relays broadcast to covering events with Channel 5 and 13, Drake continued to open doors and opportunities. Drake alum John Walters welcomed me to Channel 5 and constantly challenged me to learn and improve while showing me the ropes. I had the opportunity to cover Iowa and Iowa State Football, travel to Lincoln for a University of Nebraska football game and interview Coach Roy Williams when he was still at Kansas. All of those opportunities were a direct result of the strength of the University and our alumni in this market. Farther down my career I had the opportunity to work in sports for Disney in Orlando. All of those experiences helped me navigate a world that would have otherwise been foreign. And I am now beyond blessed to return to the University that has given me so much with the opportunity to help, in a small way, secure its future for the many students that have yet to step on campus.