Articles, Blog

Young Alumni Award winner Jonathan Kappler ’05


So, I was born and raised here in Raleigh,
North Carolina. Mom and Dad…state employees…Mom’s a
teacher and Dad worked for the State Bureau of Investigation for his entire career. I have two older sisters and when they were
at the point of deciding where to go to school, my parents were laying out the possibilities
for them. And both of them did not want to go to Appalachian,
despite the fact that both of my parents are graduates of Appalachian. It was too cold. I specifically have a very clear memory
of my oldest sister, Heather, just bursting into tears, crying, because she was so afraid she
was going to disappoint my parents because she didn’t want to go to Appalachian. So by the time they had come around to me,
the third of three children, they, I think, had kind of lost all hope that anybody would
go to Appalachian. And when I expressed interest in maybe
taking a tour, they were on it. I think we had a tour scheduled and we were up
the next weekend, in Boone. Appalachian was pretty much an obvious choice
for me from the beginning. It kind of had everything. It wasn’t too big, and it wasn’t too small
and the most important thing though was that it felt like home. While I think that was partly true for me
because I grew up going to football games and freezing my little tuchus off at Kidd
Brewer Stadium, I think it is that way for a lot of people who may not have had that
family connection to the institution. So as much of a family atmosphere that Appalachian creates for everybody there, everybody finds their niche, right…their place within
the broader Appalachian community. And for me, that was clearly the Ambassador
Organization. And it was a group of individuals that were
inspiring to me and people that I wanted to emulate, and also people that I was totally
comfortable around and knew that I could rely on for help and support when I needed it. That group of individuals, not only the students,
but the advisors that we had during my tenure at Appalachian were among the individuals
in my life that have had as much impact on me as anyone. And they continue to. Many of my closest friends are still from
the Ambassador Organization, and I don’t know who I would be without the investment that
those individuals made in me. And I had the great honor being president
of the Ambassadors for a year, and that, honestly, that experience was worth a whole college
experience in and of itself. And I, honestly, rely so much the lessons
that I learned in that situation more than I do In a number of more formal aspects of
my education. So I graduated and immediately went pretty
far away and moved to Washington D.C. And so, from the outset, after graduating,
when that connection is most strong as an alum…as an alumnus, in my case…when that
connection is so strong with the institution it was important to me to effectively bring
that community with me. So I immediately go involved with the chapter,
the alumni chapter, in Washington and got involved in helping to coordinate some of
the events. Understanding the value of investing in the
alumni community for Appalachian was clear to me because I was continuing to get more
than I was giving, in terms of my investment to the institution. And so I automatically had a network and a
community, and really a family, in a whole new city because of the Appalachian Alumni
Association. And so I was lucky enough to be selected to
serve on the Alumni Council, from Washington D.C., and ultimately getting into the leadership
pipeline and serving as secretary, vice president, and then ultimately, president of the Alumni
Association. I think I was 29 when I became president of
the Alumni Association with, at that point, well over 100 thousand active and living alumni,
and it was an incredible honor to represent them and to continue my work on behalf of
alumni, really, across the globe. It’s hard for me to imagine a bigger honor
than winning this award from Appalachian. I struggle with whether I feel like I’m deserving
of it or not. I look around at just my graduating class
and the individuals I’ve gotten to know in subsequent graduating classes, and there are
so many people that are doing so many amazing things, and it’s just an absolute, incredible
honor and I’m so grateful. It really reinforces the notion in me that
I’m representing Appalachian every day, and that I hope that I’m making everybody proud.

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