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Scholar Spotlight: Ryan O’Donnell

Hamilton Scholar, Ryan O'Donnell

Ryan O’Donnell, class of 2015, credits Alexander Hamilton Scholars with expanding his business education beyond the realm of a traditional curriculum. His initial reason for joining the program stemmed from a desire to seriously challenge himself further by studying International Business. Along the way, Ryan has enjoyed the friendship of fellow Hamilton Scholars, and watching their achievements both in college and beyond.

Ryan and his friends started Pennies 4 Progress, which won the UNC System Social Business Competition with Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, founder of Grameen Bank, of micro-finance/ social business. As a result of the competition, he launched Pennies 4 Progress in September  2012.

Pennies 4 Progress is a social enterprise built to make it easy for businesses and their customers to give micro-donations, anywhere from a penny to 99 cents. The penny donations fund the most effective nonprofit organizations for causes the donors care about. Since the inception of their business, Ryan and his colleagues have built a team of NCSU students, formed an advisory board, and improved the business model. Over the past summer, Pennies 4 Progress prepared to launch pilot programs with multiple partners to bring the micro-donation platform to online and in-store point of sale systems and cardholder services.

In addition to Pennies 4 Progress, Ryan’s past international experiences in Honduras and China have set the stage for his future career, in which he hopes to utilize his international business education to work in a meaningful, global capacity.

By Jon Wendt.