From Student to Donor to Employee to Parent

Donor Says USD Will Always Be Part of Her Legacy

By Krystn Shrieve

Catherine R. (Wesolowski) NorthcuttCatherine R. (Wesolowski) Northcutt '96 (BBA), '17 (MA), who was set to attend San Diego State University, has no doubt it was divine intervention that made it possible for her to instead attend the University of San Diego.

Catherine graduated No. 1 in her class at Grossmont Community College. So she had the grades. And after a fateful meeting with a USD law professor who convinced her that Alcalá Park was the right place for her, she also had the desire. All she needed was a way to cover the cost. Then it came.

"Shortly thereafter, USD offered a grant," Catherine recalls. "It showed me that I could make it work. It was the inspiration I needed to know that I could do it."

That's the power of a scholarship, grant or other gift from a donor. It covers a financial gap. It paves the way for a student. It's the glimmer of hope and often the final piece of a puzzle that makes something possible.

Catherine and Dan NorthcuttCatherine, who was newly married to husband Dan, majored in business administration with a concentration in finance. She studied hard, earned a 4.0 and went to work for Merrill Lynch.

Catherine and Dan bought a house and set up a trust for the children that they knew would eventually come. It was at that point they thought again about the University of San Diego and, while they planned for the care of their future family, they also took a moment to support future students at USD.

They established a planned gift that will keep giving to students for generations to come.

"It was so easy to put USD into our trust. It was a simple way to give back to USD," Catherine says. "As a young student I promised to support USD just as USD supported me. USD filled a gap for me. They gave me peace of mind. And I always knew I'd give back."

Dan recalls fondly his wife's time as a student, and two decades later, life has come full circle. She's a student once again, this time earning a master's degree in higher education administration at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

After working in the financial planning industry, having children, and starting her own business as a life coach helping other moms go from being moms to entrepreneurs (or, as some call them, "mompreneurs"), Catherine's life came full circle in a second way and today she works at USD in Olin Hall where she studied so many years before.

Together, Catherine and Dan are known around campus as change-makers-a title they don't take lightly. For Dan, being a change-maker means loving his community, city and environment and supporting USD in ways that allow students to change the world locally and globally.

Catherine says for her, being a change-maker is a mindset, a way of being and the inspiration for action that comes from a heart of love.

"It means being the change I wish to see, leading by example and giving from the abundance inside me," she says. "It all starts within."

Soon the Northcutts' children intend to follow in their mother's footsteps and become Toreros themselves. So, as a student, an employee and eventually a parent, Catherine says USD will always be part of her life and that the decision to give back was an easy choice.

"It's not only my duty to support future generations," she says. "It's my honor."

You Can Be a Change-Maker

You can follow in Catherine and Dan's footsteps and leave a gift that opens doors of opportunity for future USD students. Contact Erin Jones at or (619) 260-4523 to discuss giving options that fit your unique situation.

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Planned Giving
Degheri Alumni Center 206
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110

Phone: (619) 260-4523
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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the University of San Diego a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to the University of San Diego, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, California, 92110-2492, or its successor thereto, ______________ [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to USD or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to USD as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to USD as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and USD where you agree to make a gift to USD and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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