Where Jonathan Walsh ’98 grew up, going away to college after high school wasn’t the norm.
“It was more common to enter the trades, join the military or to work and take classes at one of the state school local campus extensions. So, when a student did go away to college, I paid attention to it,” recalled Jonathan, who was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He graduated from Calumet High School in 1994 where he ranked fifth in his class and played multiple sports, including football.
“There were a couple of people who graduated in the years before me who went to Wabash,” he said. “That’s when the College was first put on my radar.”
After recruitment by former assistant football coach Scott Boone ’81, a few visits to campus, and encouragement from two teachers who had ties to the College, Jonathan was determined to attend Wabash. However, having grown up in a single-parent household, he worried about the potential financial burden of going to college.
“The tuition was more than my mother earned in a year,” said Jonathan.
Thanks to the philanthropy of generations who came before him, Jonathan didn’t have to take on that burden alone. He was awarded a generous financial aid package that helped him get through Wabash.
A back injury in his freshman year ended his tenure on the football team. However, the Psychology major and English minor remained active on campus all four years as a member of the Sphinx Club, and served in several leadership roles within Sigma Chi fraternity, Interfraternity Council, and Student Senate. By the time of his senior year, Jonathan’s hard work paid off and he earned high pass on his comprehensive exams and graduated cum laude.
With a Wabash degree in hand, Jonathan moved to Chicago, started working in human capital consulting and earned a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Roosevelt University.
A few years later, he moved to San Francisco to work for Providian Financial where he met his wife, Vanessa. He then worked for Washington Mutual, JPMorgan Chase, and Clear Channel Outdoor. In 2012, he joined Calypso Technology, a firm specializing in Capital Markets, Treasury and Risk Management applications, where he worked for nine years. He departed as its Chief Administrative Officer in August 2021 after a successful sale of the company. Today, Jonathan is the Chief People Officer of Aera Technology and an advisor to and investor in early-stage technology companies.
Now, he and Vanessa are giving back to the College like it did to Jonathan years ago. The two recently took a giant step for Wabash, and established The Jonathan and Vanessa Walsh Family Scholarship.
The scholarship will provide support for students with demonstrated financial need, who are enrolled full-time at the College, with a preference given to those who graduated from Calumet High School, located in Lake County, or students who come from a single-parent household from the state of Indiana.
“Vanessa and I are fortunate to have the financial means to be able to give back and decided to create this scholarship for single-parent household students from Lake County who have the potential but need the extra support, like I did,” Jonathan said. “We hope this scholarship not only helps students come to Wabash, but sets them up for success with less of a financial burden once they graduate.”
Vanessa was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area, earned undergraduate degrees in psychology and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz and a master of science in organizational development from University of San Francisco. She currently serves as the senior vice president of global talent at Electronic Arts.
Vanessa has always had a passion for helping people and strongly believes in the power of philanthropy.
“Creating this scholarship at Wabash was very important to us,” she said, “especially because we have both benefitted tremendously from our respective educations. It’s the right thing to do.”
The couple said they view this fund as an opportunity to lead change and help improve outcomes.
“There’s a lot of research around giving and volunteering and the impact that it has on the giver, as well as the beneficiary, from an overall happiness standpoint,” Vanessa said. “It brings us happiness knowing that we are making a difference for students who think a Wabash education may not be possible financially.”
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