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A Gift That Will Keep On Giving

George and Jaclyn Hage in front of flowering trees

One of the values Jaclyn Hage’s grandparents instilled in her growing up was the importance of education. She has lived that value each day throughout her 10-year career at NC State.

In her current role as director of development for the Wilson College of Textiles, Hage helps connect donors with opportunities to make a difference through their philanthropy. Recently, she and her husband George, a 2004 alumnus of the university, decided to reprioritize their own giving to create a greater impact for Wolfpack students — and honor those values her grandparents shared.

“I have a deep love of NC State. I feel so incredibly blessed to work for the leadership and support the students I see every day — I’m just so impressed with them,” Jaclyn said. “Of course, being in the field that I am, I go home and tell George all about it. That’s why we started giving individually and as a family.”

The Hages have established themselves as dedicated donors, supporting Day of Giving and using Jaclyn’s payroll deduction to make an immediate difference. Their giving is aimed at helping students make the most of their NC State experiences, whether that’s investing in research and educational opportunities at Wilson College or addressing food insecurity through gifts to Feed the Pack Food Pantry, where Jaclyn has volunteered with her Wilson College colleagues. 

After years of giving back, they started thinking more deeply about their philanthropic goals.

“We had been giving smaller amounts to dozens of places, and then we thought, what if we can make some more impactful things happen?” George said.

“When we thought about what matters to us, it was a no-brainer to build on our monthly and annual support to create something greater,” Jaclyn added.

For many donors, those bigger goals can feel out of reach. However, the Hages were able to capitalize on Jaclyn’s fundraising expertise to maximize their contributions by using different vehicles for giving.

Black and white photo of Ann and Douglas Optiz on a wooden bridge
Ann and Douglas Opitz.
Black and white photo of Ann and Douglas Opitz with a city scape in the background
Photos courtesy of Jaclyn Hage.

Jaclyn’s grandfather had gifted her a paid life insurance policy, and as the Hages began estate planning, this gift felt like the ideal means by which to create the Douglas and Ann Opitz Scholarship at the College of Design, honoring her grandparents by extending educational opportunity to others. 

“My grandparents were German immigrants who grew up in the Great Depression,” Jaclyn said. “My grandmother completed eighth grade and my grandfather completed 12th. I wanted to honor their legacy because they weren’t able to finish their education, but they instilled the value of education in me.”

They chose to create a planned gift to support students in the College of Design because of the importance to the field for both Hages. Jaclyn’s father was an architect and she worked at the college for several years, seeing firsthand design students’ financial need and their dedication to their work. While George completed his degree in communications and works as a project manager at Red Hat, he is also a successful designer with a long list of credits that includes the 2021 NC State LIVE T-shirt design and work for the Hopscotch Music Festival, Dreamville Festival, Trophy Brewing, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Transfer Co. Food Hall. 

When the scholarship is awarded decades from now, the Hages hope it offers affirmation in addition to financial assistance.

“I’ve heard from students that knowing that someone who they’ve never met believes in them helped them through hard times. It was mental support that they never expected. And so we wanted to make sure students know we believe in them,” Jaclyn said. 

“There’s a validation there — you’re worth it,” George added.

The importance of that validation speaks to George’s own experiences, which helped empower his pursuit of music after graduation — and in turn led to the full-circle moment of playing at the NC State LIVE concert series with his band Jack the Radio in 2020. 

After lending his talent and time to NC State as a musician and designer, George deepened his relationship with his alma mater by joining the Friends of the Arts NC State Board. 

George, Jaclyn and their dog in the snow
George, Jaclyn and their pup, Goldie.

“I’ve stayed in the loop at NC State because of Jaclyn’s work, but since joining the board, I feel even more connected,” he said.

“Studying music at NC State had a big impact on how I developed as a musician and how I thought about music in general. College was my first time doing music on my own, and it was a real ‘pick your own adventure’ experience. I wanted to be involved in creating these same opportunities for current students.”

When George learned that they could leverage matching gifts from his employer, Red Hat, funding another need-based scholarship felt much more feasible. The Hages established the George C. Hage Music Scholarship, which will provide support for a student studying music as soon as next academic year.

By using a variety of giving methods, the Hages aren’t just maximizing their impact — they are creating an enduring legacy. Jaclyn describes these recent gifts as “the start of our philanthropic journey,” as they begin to think about supporting the Wilson College of Textiles in a greater way, as well.

“So many of my formative experiences as an adult have taken place at NC State,” Jaclyn said. “To me, our legacy is not only honoring the people who make our ability to support possible, our family and our network, but also the institution itself.

“We’re grateful to those who have allowed us to do this and also to the place where we’ve been able to make a difference — and it’s been at NC State.”