The Size of the Gift Isn't All That Matters: Nicholas and Sharon Wicker Popp

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Nicholas and Sharon Wicker Popp

Fond memories of her agricultural roots in Timnath, Colo. and her connection to Colorado State University inspired Sharon and her husband, Nicholas, to make a legacy gift that established the Weitzel Family Scholarship Fund in 2001. Sharon and Nicholas have also made a provision in their wills to include a bequest, equally divided between the College of Agricultural Sciences and Athletics, with the college's portion going toward the existing scholarship fund.

"Growing up on the family farm is very much a part of who I am and what my family is about. Our planned gift is a link to my background and a way of honoring my family heritage and what shaped my interest in the food industry where I've spent most of my career," says Sharon.

Sharon is a 1979 food science and nutrition graduate of Colorado State and received her MBA from Michigan State. While working for Con-Agra in southern California she met Nicholas who was working as a packaging engineer, they were married in 1997. Sharon is currently senior vice president and chief commercial development officer at Senomyx Inc., where researchers are leading the way in taste receptor research and the discovery and development of novel flavor ingredients. For example, the company recently received regulatory approval in the U.S. for a sucrose enhancer that allows up to 50 percent reduction in various food products, while maintaining the same great taste.

"Senomyx applies the innovations of biotechnology in our cutting edge taste research. It's a great fit because I'm able to use my background in the food industry to marry our research with commercial needs of our food and beverage industry collaborators," says Sharon.

Sharon's ties to CSU extend beyond academics as both her and Nick are avid Ram fans and attend games as often as possible in spite of the commute from their residence in Carlsbad, Calif. "We are season ticket holders and love Ram football! We are also aware of the fact that a good reputation in athletics brings very positive things to a university. We want the Rams to continue to excel so it was important to us to reflect that in our planned gift."

Despite tough economic times Sharon and Nick maintain the importance of giving back to CSU. "The size of the gift isn't all that matters—it's giving what you can within the means of your own personal situation," says Sharon. "Both Nick and I are so appreciative of the education and experiences our universities provided us in contributing to our success. CSU made a big difference in my life and it's important to us to help provide opportunities for others."