Why I Give: Elise Woodworth '07

On August 16, 2003, I matriculated at VMI. As we met the cadre, I thought the VMI experience would last for four years. I was wrong. It continues past graduation. The skills I developed at VMI—such as overcoming adversity, paying attention to detail, and accountability—have helped me since I left Barracks. They helped me as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. They help me today in my business career and my volunteer work. Every day, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to grow these skills.

I was able to grasp that opportunity because of the generosity of an alumnus and his family. Coming from Indiana, the cost to attend VMI was steep. However, in 1994, VMI received a gift from the estate of Thelma C. Sansberry, the widow of James C. Sansberry, Class of 1916, to establish the James C. Sansberry 1916 Scholarship. The intention of the Scholarship: to provide financial aid to cadets from Indiana. This charity made it possible for my dream of being a cadet to become a reality. By doing so, it set me up with the skills necessary to have a good start in life.

Though I am not in debt financially to the Institute, I am indebted to it. At VMI, I experienced adversity and, at times, failure, but ultimately overcame challenges and realized success. When I graduated, therefore, I had not only a degree and a commission, but also the confidence that I would succeed. I want to ensure that others—our future fellow alumni—have the chance to realize their potential. That is why I donate to VMI. That is why every alumnus should.

A trustee of the VMI Foundation since 2014, Elise G. Woodworth ’07 is an independent leadership and management consultant and trainer. As a cadet, she majored in Biology, was a member of the cross-country and track teams, and was active in cheerleading, the Newman Club, and the VMI Theater. She was a corporal, a color sergeant, and an S-7 lieutenant. After graduation, she served for four years as a Logistics Officer in the U.S. Air Force.