Giving back has always been a mantra for Jamaica-born entrepreneur Trisha Bailey, and so it came as no surprise when the multimillionaire decided to donate to her alma mater, the University of Connecticut (UConn).
What came as a shock, though, was that she created history by making the largest athletic donation in UConn history.
Bailey, a member of the Class of 1999 and a former university track athlete, recognised the immeasurable value of her own experience as a member of the Huskies’ track team in the 1990s.
The funds will be used to renovate Greer Fieldhouse and represent the lead donation to be put toward a US$60-million expansion of the facility where Bailey spent much of her time training as a sprinter and middle-distance runner during her student days.
This is not the first time she is donating to the institution. Bac in 2000, Bailey donated US$500,000 to save the men’s and women’s track programmes, which had been scheduled for elimination as the school sought to reduce its athletic deficit.
However, Bailey’s latest donation is unspecified as, per her request, the exact amount of her latest donation has not been revealed.
Bailey, who ran track at Weaver High School in Hartford before attending UConn, is now an entrepreneur who has a net worth of between US$650 million and US$700 million.
In recognition of the value of her personal experience on the Huskies’ track team during the 1990s, she decided to donate in order to support UConn’s student-athletes for many generations to come.
The donation acknowledges how UConn took a chance on her, seeing talents she did not know she had, and believing that she would take advantage of any opportunities given to her.
Her career at UConn began in 1995 when she entered the university and she is grateful to UConn for providing what she describes as her “first opportunity in life”.
“They took a chance on the talent I didn’t necessarily see, and they believed I would take advantage of the opportunities that were given me. And I have, with the blessings of God,” Bailey shared in an interview with CT Insider
She also pointed out that her donation represents something bigger than a historic gift and having a building with her name on it.
The new Bailey Student Athlete Success Center, a training and academic support facility comprising 80,000 square feet, will be home to six Olympic sports programmes.
It will house the men’s and women’s track and field and cross-country programmes; women’s rowing, swimming, and diving programmes; and women’s tennis and field hockey programmes.
The Center will also provide space for offices, academics, mental health, nutrition, strength and conditioning activities, and locker rooms, among other amenities.
Construction of the new facility is slated to begin in the fall of 2023.
Bailey, 45, came from humble beginnings in Jamaica and, despite poverty being a part of her background, that did not limit her ambitions.
Before migrating to the United States at age 13, she recalled living in a home without electricity or running water in Jamaica.
As a child, she says she walked seven miles to school every day and with few essential resources at her disposal.
As with many Jamaicans, Bailey moved with her family to Hartford Connecticut for a better life.
They lived in a one-bedroom apartment, but she was thrilled to have electricity and indoor plumbing.
“I was in luxury land,” she said in her interview.
Because of her upbringing, Bailey has been active with charity, donating more than US$10 million to Orlando-area initiatives.
She has started food drives in cities where she has pharmacies, keeping in mind that the first Christmas gift she ever received was a doll from a toy drive at age 13.
Bailey graduated from UConn in 1999 with a degree in human development and family relations.
After graduation, she worked as a stockbroker in Hartford and started a recruiting firm.
She earned an MBA and Ph.D. in management and organisational leadership with a concentration in finance from the University of Phoenix.
Bailey also holds a pulmonary certificate from the University of Kentucky and a certificate in cardiology treatment from New York University.
Bailey, who became a millionaire by age of 35, made her fortune mainly in the medical equipment industry before expanding into domestic and international commercial real estate.
She currently lives in Orlando, Florida, and her company, Bailey’s Medical Equipment and Supplies, now includes Bailey’s Pharmacies, which has operations in across several states (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas).
The mother of five is on her way to being a billionaire. She is one of the wealthiest Black women in the United States and is a global leader in the medical equipment industry.
Bailey, some have argued, is the richest woman in the history of Jamaica, which she thinks is “pretty cool”.
She was the first Black woman to own commercial properties in Florida’s Vero Beach and Edgewood and also owns the biggest equestrian farm in the state.
Bailey’s autobiography, Unbroken, will be released in the summer of 2023. In the book, she tells the story of her life and how she overcame numerous struggles to achieve success.