ALUMNUS INVESTS HIS RESOURCES AND TIME IN UIC STUDENTS
Don Bielinski (B.S. ’71) has never been a stranger to hard work. The UIC Business alumnus spent his time as an undergraduate commuting from his parents’ house in the southwest suburbs to UIC for a full class load, followed by an additional 20 hours of work per week. “I didn’t have any scholarships,” Bielinski said. “I couldn’t afford to go through school without working.”
To help business students in similar circumstances, and to honor the many members of his family who supported him over the years, he has established the Bielinski Family Scholarship Fund.
After earning his undergraduate degree in business administration, he went on to earn graduate degrees from Stanford and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business. While doing so, he noticed something that set him apart from the students at these other two schools. “Most of these kids were cut from the same cloth,” he said. “They usually came from extraordinary wealth, and their only idea of hard work was to study hard. When we got into actual jobs, I wasn’t fazed by the six-day work week that a lot of these Ivy League kids were complaining about.”
He credits UIC for building the foundation he needed to be successful in the business world, and now he wants to pay it forward by supporting UIC business students. To that end, Bielinski established a charitable gift annuity (CGA) in 2010 and then set up a second CGA in 2015. Both gifts were approximately $250,000. His business savvy led him to defer the start of payments on each one for five years, which resulted in a significantly larger tax deduction and higher lifetime annuity rate.
Bielinski has not only given to UIC financially. He also chairs the UIC Business Advisory Council and is a member of the iLEAD Fundraising Task Force for UIC Business. He participates in programs that provide students with mentors and connects them with CEOs and high-ranking business associates in the Chicagoland area.
“I think the easiest way for people to give is often financially because if you have the means, it doesn’t really change your lifestyle,” says Bielinski. “But also giving your time, talent, and effort to enrich a student’s chance for success is another responsibility I think I and many other alumni have.”
Bielinski hopes that his financial gifts and leadership will pave the way for UIC students who have disadvantages, financial or otherwise, or who need help understanding the impact college can have on their lives. “UIC did so much good for me, and I want to see the school continue to give students the high-quality education and groundwork it gave me,” he concludes.
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