We Got Next: Andrew Branstetter
Posted on 15 June 2017
This June YXU has launched our "We Got Next" campaign to highlight more than 20 young leaders from across the country who are applying their passions to make a difference in their communities. Follow along with YXU on Facebook, @yxulife on Twitter and Instagram and grab your We Got Next tee benefiting the Lebron James Family Foundation.
Young adults blossoming into independence are faced with crucial decisions. Colleges to attend, jobs to pursue, relationships to uphold. Among these is the challenge of how to “leave your mark”. For what will you be remembered? Why were you put on this earth? As a 20-something year old, you obviously know the answer to this question, right? Wrong. If you do…then you’re among the lucky. Most of us won’t instantly find our passions. What we can do, however, is begin to get involved in our communities. Whether you begin with a multimillion-dollar nonprofit or a newly formed kickstarter, there are endless opportunities for engagement and leadership development.
Oh, before I go any further, I’m Andrew Branstetter. I am a rising 2nd-year at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and I attended OSU for undergrad as well. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. What I’m here to share is the work I was able to do outside of the classroom that has allowed me to develop as a leader and, primarily, to give back to my Columbus community.
I was fortunate enough to come across BuckeyeThon during my sophomore year at OSU, and it was without a doubt the most meaningful involvement I have had thus far. BuckeyeThon is the largest student-run nonprofit in the state of Ohio, raising money for the children being treated in the Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant floor at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. BuckeyeThon hosts fundraising and celebratory events throughout the year, culminating in a massive 24-hour Dance Marathon that takes place in the OSU student union. This past year, BuckeyeThon and the OSU community helped fundraise over $1.5 million that will directly support the lives of children battling life-threatening illnesses. The most incredible part about BuckeyeThon is the modifier “student-run”. This multimillion-dollar nonprofit organization is led first and foremost by students who are juggling classes, studying, families, and many other engagements all while managing to raise money in the spirit of philanthropy. Through membership development on both a personal and professional level, BuckeyeThon helps transform hopeful, inexperienced students into successful philanthropists and inspirational community leaders.
The impact of nonprofits like BuckeyeThon goes far beyond the numerical accomplishments. Yes, the dollars raised will benefit hundreds to thousands of children, as well as their families, while they are being treated. But the larger effect, the effect that will make waves for generations, the effect which gives me chills to think about, is how many hundreds of students will leave OSU with an insatiable hunger to change their communities. Organizations that emphasize the development of young philanthropists are setting fire to the outdated model of fundraising limited to phone calls and trite mailing campaigns. These organizations catalyze young leaders to value outreach into their communities, to value engagement with community members, to value creative methods of networking and fundraising. These organizations are only the beginning; each leader will take what they’ve learned as they continue on to follow their passions in a variety of fields, inspiring and crafting other young minds along the way.
My words cannot capture the power present in the minds of young adults to become community leaders and philanthropists. And I don’t necessarily believe that all young people have an obligation to become leaders in their communities. Not everyone will do so, and that’s okay. But what I do believe is that each of us has the raw materials, the innate resources. The capability to motivate others and to transform ideas into realities. All it takes is a little push. For me, that push was BuckeyeThon. For others, it’s their incredible work with soup kitchens, food pantries, blood banks, religious organizations, etc. Humans have a tendency to underestimate how much we have impacted others. Fight this tendency and start making an effort. O-H.