Section Elevating Student Experience
In the U.S., the average age of a charitable donor is 62, according to the 2017 Blackbaud charitable giving report. Which makes Sujata (BSChE ’99) and Andrew (BSEE ’00) Offenbacher highly unusual. And that surprises them.
“I didn’t realize that so few people donate at our age. For us, it’s just a recognition and gratitude for where we are in our lives right now — even though we cannot give as much as others can,” Sujata says. Andrew is equally grateful.
“Purdue gave us the educational building blocks that opened up every possible door for us when we were graduating. The magnet that Purdue has, its reputation, attracts great companies that are looking for industry-ready graduates,” he says.
The Offenbachers, who have steadily advanced in their respective careers over the better part of two decades, live, work and raise their boys — ages 9 and 11 — in the Chicago area. Sujata is associate director of global marketing strategy at Astellas Pharma US Inc., and Andrew is vice president of engineering and operations at Focal Point LLC, an architectural lighting manufacturer. Through all the career and family transitions typical of young professionals’ lives, it never occurred to them not to give back. They have given to Purdue for six years running, eight years total.
Purdue Day of Giving — for the win
The Offenbachers like to give during Purdue’s Day of Giving, the annual 24-hour online fundraising event. In 2018, Andrew donated multiple times in an hour, helping the Purdue Student Engineering Foundation (PSEF) edge out all other student organizations to win the $2,000 bonus.
PSEF President Jacob Everidge, a senior in electrical engineering, says, “With the Offenbachers’ help, we were able to finish first out of all student organizations for number of donations. Being a roughly 50-member club, that shattered all our expectations.”
PSEF is an outreach organization focused on stirring STEM excitement among students in middle school and high school. It is known for its flagship event, the Engineering Expo, a daylong engineering camp for 350-400 students.
The Offenbachers have been devoted to PSEF from the beginning. “It almost became more important than my academics,” Andrew says. “I knew why I went to Purdue, and I thought, ‘I want this to be a part of my life forever.’ The time we spent in PSEF was about building this organization that was going to have a lasting and sustaining impact on that mission of connecting future engineers to Purdue.”
Giving is connecting
The Offenbachers are not deterred by common roadblocks to charitable giving. Sujata says, “Obviously, we’re busy; we have work and we are raising kids, but it’s the least we can do. The donations to PSEF are our way of staying connected and knowing that we’re making a difference for future generations at Purdue.”
It comes down to that for Andrew, too. “You can give back $10 a month. You can start at any level and try to do it in a continuous way so you feel that connectivity. Giving is a way of reminding you why Purdue was important to you.” he says.
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Sujata and Andrew Offenbacher
Investments in Infrastructure
Expansions and improvements to teaching and learning spaces, laboratories, offices
Elevating Student Experience
Scholarships, student opportunities, diversity programs, student clubs
Dedicated to the Cause
Fundraising, event hosting, activity planning, advisory boards, networking with alumni
Laboratory infrastructure and equipment, project startup funds, graduate student support
Administrative funds, student travel and networking, unexpected opportunities
Rewarding, retaining, recruiting faculty and promoting diversity in engineering