McCormick Grad Says NU Connections Significant
On his very first visit to Northwestern, David Hinton found that a meaningful personal connection made all the difference. Hinton was eager to apply his math and science skills toward a degree in chemical engineering, but he felt some doubt: Could someone from an inner-city neighborhood in Ohio ever feel at home at a prestigious university? What set his mind at ease was spending time with an older student he remembers only as Jonathan.
“I felt like he gave me the real deal as to what I could expect as a minority student on Northwestern’s campus,” says Hinton, vice president at Robeco Investment Management. “I came to feel like I could be comfortable there and thrive there as I interacted with the rest of the University.”
Then and now, personal connections hold great significance for Hinton’s engagement with the University.
At the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, his adviser was then-professor (now Dean) Julio M. Ottino, who offered guidance on matters both inside and outside the classroom. After graduating, Hinton followed suit by joining the University’s Mentoring Program for African American and Hispanic Freshmen. He recalls how mentoring one student became a mutually beneficial relationship.
“I was able to share my experience and help someone get over their fear,” he says. “You come to this great private university where… on some level you start to question whether you belong. To help her see that not only does she belong but she can also thrive — that was one of the best experiences of my life.”
A graduate business degree took Hinton into the world of money management. Today, he daily exercises the rigorous analytical and problem-solving skills he developed at McCormick. And he deeply values the new personal connections that result from his serving on the Northwestern University Leadership Circle’s San Francisco Bay Area Regional Council.
“This is an opportunity to interact with people who are like-minded. We all love the University and want to see it grow,” he says. “If a council like ours can get more involved and do more fundraising, we all help the University’s mission and enhance its reputation.”
Remembering the scholarship donors whose generosity made it possible for him to attend Northwestern, Hinton hopes his own gifts toward scholarships will help Northwestern reach out to “a diamond in the rough, like me — someone who can contribute to the learning experiences of others,” he says.
This article first appeared in the Northwestern University Leadership Circle Honor Roll of Donors 2009.