Coming Full Circle
Cassidy Colson ’17 is a proud NC State alum, employee and donor. Coming from a small town in North Carolina, she relied on scholarship support to make her dreams of a college education come true. Now, she’s giving forward.
As a third grader, Cassidy Colson told her mother to start saving money. She had decided something.
“I’m going away for college,” she confidently said.
More than a decade later, Colson is a proud NC State graduate — and better yet, this 2017 alum stayed on with the Wolfpack to work in Digital Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA) as a digital marketing content specialist.
“I love working in higher education, and to stay at NC State is a huge perk,” said Colson.
As a high school student, Colson applied to several schools, at first considering UNC-Wilmington because of friends who attended. But NC State offered her more scholarships and financial aid. One of those scholarships, the Nellie Maude Matthews Scholarship, made a particular impact.
The Nellie Maude Matthews Scholarship was created by Jim ’68, ’70, ’73 and Kathrine Owens in 1997, and is named for Jim Owens’ mother. This now-endowed scholarship primarily supports students from the state’s eastern, rural counties and is one of several scholarships established by the couple. The Owens family has also endowed faculty positions and provided support to multiple other areas across campus.
Growing up in Elizabeth City in a single-parent household, Colson found that opportunities for things like higher education weren’t as abundant.
“The commitment of people like the Owenses to eastern North Carolina, and places similar to where I grew up, makes a real difference,” said Colson.
She started her NC State career as a science major but quickly realized that she had a love for writing and switched to the communications department. In the fall of Colson’s senior year, she secured an internship with DELTA, which eventually led to a full-time role.
As part of Colson’s position, she has the opportunity to regularly talk with online degree students and alums. She loves to hear their stories, especially with so many students balancing professional careers, families and school.
“There’s so much at stake, and they really care about their learning,” said Colson. “Working at NC State as an alum feels like my experience has come full circle, and I have a new, interesting perspective on the work we do.”
During her years as a student, Colson was part of the Student Wolfpack Club and attended as many sporting events as she could. By the time she graduated with her communications degree, she was involved in the Public Relations Student Society of America and the Communications Honors Club.
Colson also started something else important as a student — her giving streak.
“As a senior, I just really wanted that cord,” said Colson, referring to the philanthropy cords given to seniors who participate in their senior campaign to wear at commencement. For Colson, this was an easy entrance to becoming a donor, and she wanted to keep giving back in return for what she gained from NC State.
“I know it makes a difference, because I felt that impact as a student.”
Now, Colson gives back each year, trying to maintain her giving streak in a classic Wolfpack competitive spirit. “I never want to miss a year. You never stop being a part of the Pack and giving is a way to stay connected,” she said.
Colson likes to support the Extraordinary Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (EOSI), the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Diversity and Equity Fund. EOSI feels particularly meaningful and hits close to home for her.
“It impacts people who need a little bit more, and are just looking for a chance to get to experience NC State, “ said Colson. “My donations are small, but I know every bit counts. It’s a great way to keep feeling connected.”
“I get excited every time I see NC State in my mailbox and get to learn how my money is making a difference.”