Michelle Vegliante (’11) has a heart for helping those in need.
Whether it’s mixing cement by hand, painting sites for local nonprofits or working with orphans in Honduras, Vegliante’s undergraduate commitment to community service has led to a career that impacts the lives of people around the globe.
“I feel lucky every day. I get to spend my day raising money for a nonprofit that helps save lives and keeps people healthy,” said the event administrator for the American Heart Association in Washington, D.C. “I wouldn’t be in the career I am today or so happy in my job without the opportunities Georgia Southern’s Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement gave me. It is so hard to describe, but I feel a sense of goodness at my core for nonprofit work,” said the Marietta, Ga., native about her student training at the University.
As an undergraduate, Vegliante established close working relationships with more than 10 nonprofit organizations in the Statesboro community, and also launched her own organization called Painters for Nonprofits, created to lend a helping hand to nonprofits. Since her graduation, Painters for Nonprofits has continued to paint buildings and facilities, such as the Boys and Girls Club and the Kiwanis Ogeechee Fairgrounds.
Vegliante also traveled to Honduras during an Alternative Break trip, where she worked with other students to build schools and housing for impoverished villages. During the trip, she met Students Helping Honduras co-founder Shin Fujiyama, which led to a realization about her career path.
“I was really inspired and I knew that I wouldn’t be happy in a job if I couldn’t do something that would make a difference in the lives of others,” she said. Today, that includes raising an estimated $1.2 million dollars to make people healthier through the Heart’s Delight Wine Tasting and Auction, an epicurean four-day food and wine event benefiting the American Heart Association. The event features visiting winemakers from all over the world, auctions and dinners prepared by culinary greats in exclusive D.C. locations.
There’s no doubt that Vegliante will take this challenge and turn it into an opportunity to help others.
“I’ve always wanted to do something bigger than myself that goes beyond my lifetime,” she said.