When opportunity knocks, Rick (E'84) and Jill (E'82) Creech make the most of it. With the help of financial aid packages, both were afforded the opportunity to attend Carnegie Mellon University. They jumped at the chance.
"For me, Carnegie Mellon was financially out of reach," explained Rick. "But because of financial aid, I got to go to CMU, play football, learn from top people in the Civil Engineering Department and earn a great degree."
Jill's situation was similar. Without financial aid, college wasn't a possibility.
During their time at CMU, they took advantage of all that the university offers. They worked hard to compete with the best and the brightest. They learned how to solve problems in a real-world dynamic. And they built lasting relationships with their professors and peers.
"Education is truly one of the greatest things you can have," said Jill. "It can make all the difference in the world as to what your future is. We wouldn't be where we are today without it."
Today, Jill is the Executive Director of the Florida Department of Protections' southeast district, where she oversees all of southeast Florida's permitting and regulatory efforts regarding water, wastewater, air, wetlands, ports, dredge fill operations and stormwater.
Rick is the President of Creech Engineers, Inc. Founded in 1988, the company is a regional engineering and surveying geomatics firm that specializes in commercial, residential and subdivision land development, as well as stormwater management, municipal capital improvement projects, transportation engineering and traffic engineering.
Giving back to CMU remains a priority for the couple. And according to Rick - a current member and past president of the CMU Alumni Association Board - it's also a chance to create opportunities for others.
They give to a faculty support fund named for former provost and associate dean of the College of Engineering, the late Paul Christiano (E'64, '65, '68).
During his time at CMU, Christiano strengthened academics and research units, fostered the growth of interdisciplinary education, and devoted himself to mentoring students - making sure his door was always open.
"Paul busted my chops and helped make me who I am today," said Rick. "Having the opportunity to give in his honor is second to none."
In support of the Inspire Innovation campaign, the couple recently set up a planned gift to make sure the opportunity to give back doesn't pass them by.
With two daughters in college, it isn't always easy. Still, they find a way to make it work by giving through a pooled income fund that provides them with annual income and will grow over time, making their gift to CMU even more impactful.
"Education is the key," said Jill. "Ours has proved to be invaluable, so we feel it's appropriate to give back."