Alum Pays it Forward
When Daniel Gunter III speaks about his time at NC State University, it doesn’t feel like 17 years have passed.
He shares memories of time spent working toward both a history and a Spanish major; talks about how he has remained close with the friends he made; and recalls how significant it was to form strong relationships with his professors, some of whom he’s still in touch with today.
Gunter made the most of his time at NC State, serving as a Chancellor’s Aide, a member of the Senior Class Council, a member of Student Government and an Alumni Association Ambassador, among other roles. He was a member of the University Honors Program, a University Scholar, and a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity.
After he graduated in 2000, Gunter went on to earn his law degree and spent several years working in Washington, D.C., before returning to Raleigh to work for a law firm in 2006. When the economy crashed in 2008, Gunter lost his job at that law firm, and he recalls how important the support of NC State alumni and friends was for him in his subsequent job search.
“Anyone I reached out to at State helped me, sometimes people I didn’t even know,” he said.
He joined DLA Piper LLP (US), in Raleigh as an attorney in 2010. Grateful for the experiences and the support of NC State, Gunter has worked hard to give as much back to the university as it has given him.
Following NC State’s October launch of the Think and Do the Extraordinary Campaign, with its goal of $1.6 billion in private support, Gunter enthusiastically signed on to serve as Campaign Cabinet Volunteer Chair for Annual Giving.
He’ll now serve as an advocate for the Campaign, providing leadership for Campaign activities, educating the community about NC State and the Campaign’s goals and working with University Advancement to develop strategies for prospective donors.
“I almost feel you can’t turn it down, and I wouldn’t have anyway – I was so excited,” Gunter said of being asked to be an advocate for the Campaign. “I’ll do whatever they ask. NC State has been a huge piece of my life.”
It’s the latest in a long list of ways he has given both his time and financial support to the university. He also currently serves on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, where he is secretary and treasurer, and previously served on the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean’s Advisory Board. He’s a member of the Chancellor’s Circle and the Wallace Carl Riddick Lifetime Giving Society.
During his time on the Dean’s Advisory Board, Gunter said he often heard stories about students’ financial needs, and how the support of donors and friends of NC State helped make those students’ dreams of attending the university a reality. When he thinks about the Campaign, Gunter said he thinks about the needs of today’s students at NC State and how the students are the central focus for the funds that are raised.
“At the end of the day, it’s for the students – improving the student experience,” he said.
In that same vein, last year, Gunter and his wife, Lindsay Beth Gunter, established the Gunter Family Scholarship Endowment to support students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
“I know how important scholarships can be to people. I know I can’t really pay someone back for my own experience, but I guess this is more about paying it forward.”
If all of this seems remarkable for someone who is only in his 30s, perhaps it’s important to note that this passion for giving back may be in his blood.
“I was brought up in a family of philanthropists,” he said.
Gunter’s mother was a member and strong supporter of the Junior League of Winston-Salem, and his father served twice as board chairman for Goodwill of Northwest North Carolina, so Gunter learned by example about the importance of philanthropy and voluntarism.
“No one said you have to give back, but it was so clear,” he said.
His family connection to NC State goes back generations as well. Gunter’s grandfather, Daniel C. Gunter Jr., attended NC State before leaving to enlist for World War II. He returned as a member of the Board of Trustees and along with his wife, Denorma “Dede” Gunter, supported NC State over the years both financially and through volunteer service. The younger Gunter’s aunt, Peaches Gunter Blank, earned two degrees from NC State and later served as chair of the Board of Trustees and a member of the UNC System Board of Governors.
When Gunter talks to others about giving back, he encourages them to think about their own meaningful experiences at NC State. While financial support is essential, Gunter points out that alumni and friends can find other ways to give back as well, such as meeting with undergraduates who are looking for jobs or speaking to student organizations.
“Think about some of the great things that happened to you when you were a student,” he said. “That’s where I think it starts.”