David Cantrell knows what a relief it is to earn a degree and graduate without financial burden.
An experienced development professional who currently works on behalf of Shriners Hospitals for Children, Cantrell graduated from Augusta University in 2006 with a master’s degree from the Hull College of Business. Because he worked in an assistantship program at the college, he was able to earn his MBA without accruing any student debt.
Reflective of his empathy for students with financial need, Cantrell will fund an expendable account that will immediately benefit current students. He has also pledged an estate gift to establish a scholarship that, when realized and fully endowed, will provide aid to business students in perpetuity.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of his gift is reflected in the name of the endowment. In making his financial plans, Cantrell’s first priority is his family, specifically his four children, whom he chose to honor by establishing the Isaac, Andrew, Ethan and Caroline Cantrell Scholarship Endowment in their names.
It is important to him that the endowment will live in perpetuity – an unending gift from a father who truly loves his children and an example that will positively impact others for generations to come.
Cantrell attributes his successful launch into the business world to AU’s Career Services experts, who helped him secure a marketing internship with Goodwill Industries while he was a student.
“Career Services helped me when I didn’t yet know how to look for a job,” Cantrell said.
Leaders at Goodwill recognized his potential and began training Cantrell to take on greater responsibilities.
“I began doing development work part time as part of my full-time position. A year later, my boss asked me to do fundraising full time,” said Cantrell, adding that he learned a lot working as a fundraising generalist for Goodwill.
Looking to advance his career, Cantrell returned to Augusta University in 2012 as a major gifts officer in Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement (known then as the Office of Advancement), initially raising money on behalf of the College of Nursing and later for the Medical College of Georgia and its associated adult hospital.
“I was always so impressed by David’s strong commitment to this work. I could see that he truly cared about our institution’s mission and about the donors and faculty he worked with. This was not just a job to him,” said Eileen V. Brandon, associate vice president for philanthropy at Augusta University, who worked side-by-side with Cantrell to raise private funds for MCG and the university.
“No matter where you are in your career, you can start thinking about a planned gift.”David Cantrell, Hull College of Business alum
Cantrell earned the Outstanding Newcomer award from the Georgia Education Advancement Council, an organization that fosters the development of higher education advancement professionals in Georgia.
The opportunity to work from home and be present for his young family drew him to Shriners Hospitals for Children in 2019. Cantrell persevered through the pandemic when he found himself unable to meet his donors face to face for about 16 months.
“It was difficult to establish relationships by phone and email, but donors actually gave more in 2020 because they realized the many challenges presented by the pandemic,” said Cantrell. “Loyal donors really stepped up.”
Cantrell’s position is a challenging one – today, his territory includes eight states and involves frequent travel – but his enthusiasm for the work has not waned.
“I love the fact my work allows me to help others and, at the same time, achieve the work-life balance that is so important to me,” said Cantrell.
He recalled attending a conference where the speaker, a professional in his late 30s, explained the logic and benefit of gift planning for people of all ages.
“Even at his relatively young age, this attorney was giving back to his alma mater,” he said. “No matter where you are in your career, you can start thinking about a planned gift.”
After realizing he could positively impact his alma mater that way, Cantrell began establishing a planned gift to endow a scholarship fund at Augusta University that will help students in the Hull College of Business.
This doesn’t surprise Brandon.
“I had the privilege of watching his transformation to becoming a father. He approached fatherhood in the same way he did his work – with warmth, care and dedication. Those adorable kids are truly his pride and joy,” she said.
The Isaac, Andrew, Ethan and Caroline Cantrell Scholarship Endowment will be part of his legacy. Cantrell is setting a tangible example for his children on the importance of giving back with the hopes that one or more of them may follow in his footsteps, both as a successful AU Jaguar and as a grateful donor.
For information about how to support the Hull College of Business or other scholarships, please contact Philanthropy & Alumni Engagement or make an online gift directly to the Isaac, Andrew, Ethan and Caroline Cantrell Scholarship Endowment.