When Mark J. Riedy (pictured, right), executive director for the Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate (BMC), spoke those words Tuesday afternoon from the podium, the proof of his statement was found wherever he looked in the audience inside the UC Forum rooms.
The University of San Diego hosted its 26th annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon, an event that provides current undergraduate and graduate students the chance to dine with and personally thank donors who’ve graciously provided support for a dream.
“We’re celebrating students and the benefactors who help make a USD education possible,” Executive Vice President and Provost Julie Sullivan said.
At USD, nearly 70 percent of all students attend the university through the support of some kind of financial aid, including scholarships.
Riedy, whose real estate program — both the undergraduate major and minor as well as its high-profile Master of Science (MSRE) graduate degree are housed within the School of Business Administration — was spotlighted at this year’s event, provided two prime examples of the importance of giving back.
Deborah Gianulis, her family and the local business community are still feeling the impact of the loss of James T. Gianulis, who passed away on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The latter, a native San Diegan and former Army captain was a fixture on the real estate scene — “he was always looking for the next real estate opportunity,” Deborah said. James Gianulis, among his many connections to community organizations, he also served on the BMC’s executive committee. When he developed multiple sclerosis and was confined to a wheelchair, it didn’t stop Gianulis’ passion for real estate and his drive to succeed.
“Physically he was in a wheelchair, but his spirit had no limits,” Riedy said. “Jim was always smiling.”
To celebrate James Gianulis, the BMC and the Gianulis family are leading an endowed scholarship drive to provide scholarship assistance for future USD real estate students.
“We hope this scholarship will help a student who has the same passion, high integrity and who can contribute to the field that he so valued,” Deborah Gianulis said.
One person who exemplifies many quality traits is Nick Norris, who is graduating next month from the MSRE program. Norris (pictured, far right) has been a part-time student in the program, balancing academics with his military commitments. He’s done tours of Afghanistan and Iraq as a Navy Lieutenant and as a Navy SEAL. He’s also a husband and new father.
“He’s a leader in the classroom, too,” Riedy said of the inspiring Norris, who has earned four scholarships while pursuing his graduate degree.
Norris spoke admirably of his dedication to his ongoing military service and how he found out about what he believes can be his post-military career aspiration in commercial real estate. He attended a Naval Special Warfare Family Foundation dinner that supports Navy SEALs and sat at the same table with some real estate businessmen. The dinner conversation made such an impression that he told his wife that same night that he may have found what he wants to do next.
He looked at the education opportunities, spoke with Riedy and came away convinced that USD’s program was right for him.
“I couldn’t be happier with the decision I made. I’ve learned a lot through this program,” Norris said. “I’m very thankful.”
Norris’ closing words echoed the sentiment of the more than 160 USD students from all educational disciplines who attended the luncheon. Many more will follow.
— Ryan T. Blystone
Learn more about giving opportunities at USD