news-category: Advancement

Kaitlyn McNeilly Gives to Gardner-Webb to Celebrate the University’s Impact on Her Life  

a photo of Craig Hall with the flag pole in front
As an English major, Kaitlyn McNeilly spent a lot of time in Gardner-Webb's Craig Hall.

2015 Alumna Supports Program That Contributed to Her Personal and Professional Growth

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Kaitlyn McNeilly, 2015 alumna of Gardner-Webb, describes her four years at the University as “genuinely lifechanging.” An English major and native of Forest City, N.C., she expressed her deep appreciation for the faculty in her program. This year on Double Dawg Day, she made her first donation to the University, a gift to honor and support the Department of English. She joined over 1,300 donors on that day to raise a record-breaking $1.4 million for the University’s academic and athletic programs, scholarships, and facilities.

“I’ve been out of college for almost 10 years,” McNeilly explained. “It felt like a great way to commemorate my time outside of the university — a little nod to say, ‘I haven’t forgotten you!’ As a permanent resident of Boiling Springs, N.C., I’m also proud of how much GWU supports our community through special events, and I appreciate the partnership they have with the town. It was a huge factor I considered when buying a home.”

McNeilly uses her talents as a communicator and writer with the Uptown Shelby (N.C.) Association, a nonprofit that promotes the uptown district. She oversees community events, recruits and manages volunteers, researches and writes grants, and handles marketing, including social media pages, the website, advertisements, and more.

Her professors equipped her for career with studies and discussions on rhetoric, writing and literature. “Beyond the knowledge professors in that department bestowed on me, they were instrumental in shaping me into the adult that I am today,” McNeilly added. “Their beliefs, ideas, and compassion for their students left an indelible impact on me that I’ll forever be grateful for, so truly, my donation was the least I could do to say, ‘thank you.’”

She continued, “My time spent in Craig Hall with the English department professors was genuinely life-changing for me. They helped me grow from a timid teenager to a plucky adult that believed I can achieve nearly anything with the right foundations and the right folks on my team. By the time I reached my senior year, I felt like I had earned more than just a bachelor’s degree. I had a new family that loved me and pushed me toward successes, even when I felt discouraged. Office hours were more than just check-ins, they were heart-to-hearts that I still reflect on today.”

McNeilly encourages other alumni to support their alma mater. “I think it’s always important to give back whenever you can — speaking as someone who works for a nonprofit and is always looking for volunteers — and especially to the institutions that made a positive impact on your life,” she affirmed. “For me, GWU is absolutely one of those, and I feel proud to have been able to give a little back!”

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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