Gridiron Giving: Justin Gladieux ’07 Wants to Help Build the Future of Oiler Student-Athletes
For University of Findlay’s Thank a Donor Day, on February 25, 2021, in an effort to recognize them for their giving hearts, we are publishing a short series telling the stories of some of our donors. We thank these, and all, donors to UF for their philanthropy and friendship, and are immensely grateful for their contributions to the Oiler family.
It takes a lot of courage to be a part of a college athletic program; it takes much ambition and drive; and Justin Gladieux ’07 has enormous amounts of all three. While he already had enough of these attributes before coming to University of Findlay and joining the Oiler football team as a walk on, the specific traits, along with a host of others, he said, were developed on the UF campus and at Donnell Stadium. Now, as a proud alumni and member of the Board of Counselors at Findlay, he wants to create the same opportunities for development and growth for other student-athletes through giving back in the form of an endowed scholarship, the same type of assistance he is so grateful for having while at UF.
Gladieux grew up in Rossford, OH, just outside of Toledo and up I-75 from Findlay about 45 minutes, having a goal to play football at the college level. Being the man he is, it wasn’t enough to just be a part of a team; he wanted to play. His best shot of doing so, he determined, was to walk on at UF, work hard at both athletics and academics, and get some playing time. “Since I didn’t have an athletic scholarship at first, I applied for all of the endowed scholarships I could find,” he said. “I got a lot of them, and that financial windfall was absolutely huge for me.”
With the help of these academic scholarships, he made his way through his freshman and sophomore years at UF within the College of Business, focusing on finance and business management, and by the time he was a junior, he had earned an athletic scholarship, something he counts among his “crowning achievements” as an Oiler. His overall experience at Findlay, Gladieux explained, was beneficial in multiple ways. “End to end tremendous,” he said. “It truly couldn’t have been better academically. I learned so much about business from classes and experiences. For instance, I was actively involved in various COB programs like Students in Free Enterprise, and was really close to [UF assistant professor of economics and finance] Dr. [Gregory] Arburn who ran that program. He and programs and activities like that more or less set the stage for me career-wise to build a path to success.” Gladieux also mentioned that a large benefit of being at UF was the connections he made, some of which ending up as lifelong friends. He stayed with UF for a bit after graduation, as an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the football program, before leaving to work with Nationwide Financial, an opportunity that was, in fact, presented by an older sister of Gladieux’s best friend from college. “So, my UF affiliation landed me the job,” he said.
Now, Gladieux has a career as senior vice president of corporate markets at Lion Street, a privately held national financial services distribution company. He works in the high net worth and corporate insurance market for wealth preservation and estate transfer planning. It’s a career that capitalizes on his ability to see what is best for the future of his clients, a skill that he also employs for himself and his own family, which includes wife Jamie, almost three-year old son Brody, and one-and-a-half year-old daughter, Gentry.
And, by starting the scholarship endowment, he’s hoping that yet-to-come college students can also secure a better future for themselves through financial assistance just as he did. The scholarship, once fully endowed, will benefit, as a first preference, a UF football player studying within the College of Business, and of next preference, a COB athlete involved with another sport.
Gladieux said he’s fully aware of how lucky he was to have the financial help, as he knows of countless peers, including his wife, who didn’t have that benefit during their college tenure. That, he said, is why it’s so important for him to give back to his alma mater. “I want to continue to make sure that future generations of Oilers have the same or even a better experience than I had,” he said. “So, I’m excited for this scholarship, and I plan to continue advocating for UF to peers and friends so students can have that big help, particularly on the other end of college like I did, coming out with no debt. It allowed me, and will hopefully allow for them, to do great things after graduating without that financial burden.”