John (Weinberg 89) and Julie Wander (Medill 89) Give to Support University's Mission
John and Julie Wander almost lived a college freshman’s worst nightmare: being late on the first day. Both raced to their dorm orientation meeting at the last minute — and as a result, the two were assigned to introduce each other to the rest of the group. But what started as an unsettling moment quickly turned into a surprisingly pleasant experience to last a lifetime.
“If we hadn’t been the last two to show up for that session, who knows where we’d be today,” says John of now-wife Julie.
“It really makes you stop and think about all the things that have happened in your adult life, and how it all began at Northwestern,” adds Julie.
John, a trial partner who deals with commercial lawsuits, acknowledges the education he received at Northwestern for providing him with skills he uses daily — and Julie, a former institutional equity and sales trading representative and full-time mother of the couple’s two seven-year-old girls, agrees.
“Weinberg taught me to be a critical thinker,” John says. “I am convinced that Northwestern’s liberal arts training put me on the path to success. When I got to law school, it hit me that I already knew how to write analytically. That’s much more unique than most students realize, and it’s critically important to what I do today.”
“Medill taught me how to sort through clutter and to focus on what’s important,” remarks Julie. “I’ve discovered many times how critical this is, whether you’re dealing with millionaires or seven-year-olds.”
In that vein, the Wanders have a strong belief that Northwestern also focuses on what’s important, which is why they not only make annual gifts to Wildcat Athletics and scholarships, but to University Unrestricted as well.
“We think it’s important that University leadership receives ‘untethered’ money,” John says. “They know what they need to do with it a lot better than we know.”
The couple’s many positive and beneficial experiences as students and alumni inspired them to return to campus for their 20th reunion. “It’s particularly enjoyable to see how the campus has grown and to see how some things have not changed, even 20 years later,” says John.
Nostalgia aside, their support each year stems from a desire to help the University further its mission today. “A contribution is about ‘the now’,” Julie says. “It’s about bringing the best and brightest to Northwestern.”
This article first appeared in the Northwestern University Leadership Circle Honor Roll of Donors 2009.