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Senior shows leadership skills planning student philanthropy projects

While he was in high school, Matthew Werner participated in fund-raising events for a good friend who was battling colon cancer. That proved to be a life-changing experience for the NKU senior, who has become one of the leaders in student philanthropy on campus.

“I just really enjoy doing this,” said the 22-year-old senior from Rising Sun, Ind. “I know I’m bringing in money to donate to a worthy cause, and that’s something I really love to do.”

Werner was named Chairman of the Year by the NKU chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha for heading the fraternity’s fund-raising committee during the 2012 spring and fall semesters. His projects included Bowling for Bucks, which raised nearly $1,500 for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Rent-A-Pike, which netted close to $3,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Last October, Werner was the leading individual fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life that was held on campus. He turned in more than $700 in pledges, much of it coming from a roller skating benefit he organized with the Norse Leadership Society.

“I think everyone here (at NKU) is very generous and leans toward philanthropy,” Werner said.  “It’s just that kind of university. When they say, ‘Dreamer’s Welcome,’ that’s really what it’s like. If you have an idea (for fund-raising), people will help you get behind it, and you’ll get it done.”

Werner in now serving as chairman of the NKU homecoming committee. One of his responsibilities in that position is helping plan two annual homecoming fund-raisers -- Canstruction and Nearly Naked Mile – that benefit the Brighton Center in Newport.

As a co-chair on the homecoming committee last year, Werner worked closely with directors of the inner-city center that provides food and shelter for people as well as education and job opportunities.

“I’ve seen the impact you can make just by being generous,” he said. “When there’s organizations out there that are trying to make an impact on a large scale, if you can help them in any way they appreciate it more than anything.”

Werner is on track to graduate this spring with a degree in business management. He’ll still be able to do volunteer work after he leaves campus, but he’ll miss working on the fund-raising projects he devoted time to while attending NKU.

“I’ve loved doing the philanthropy here. It’s been a great experience,” he said. “And I’ve had a lot of people along the way help me develop all this, so it’s not just me.”