The annual senior class gift is a way for students to leave their mark on the Westminster College campus and community. Physical monuments have been gifted in the past, however, for the last few years, the class gifts have changed to support the college’s different funds, initiatives or scholarships programs.
Examples of previous class gifts include the fireplace in the Kim T. Adamson Alumni House from the Class of 2007, the landscaping around the Kim T. Adamson Alumni House from the Class of 2008 and the fireplace in the Bassis Student Center from the Class of 2012.
To choose the class gift, Andres Ramos, Westminster’s Annual Fund Coordinator, and the Alumni Association gather a committee of about 12 seniors. Ramos said he and the Alumni Association reach out to deans, professors and other staff members to find students who are involved on campus and represent the graduating class well. This group of students also helps plan the senior dinner.
The physical gifts preferred by prior classes have evolved into donations to scholarship funds, Ramos said. For the past five years, the class gifts have been to a certain fund or initiative on campus.
“I like giving to a fund better than something physical,” said Jazmin May, ASW President and member of this year’s senior committee. “I think a fund has the ability to impact more students directly than something physical. It is more likely to have a positive impact on someone and that’s what we want.”
According to May, the senior committee wants to help Westminster students be successful while they are in school, and by giving to funds, they are achieving that more directly.
“I think that giving things is great […] but I think students choosing to give to other students is way more meaningful,” said Sharon Gibbons, Westminster’s Gift and Database Management Coordinator. “You are giving back and paying it forward.”
The change in the type of class gift could also be due to the financial costs of upkeep of physical projects like maintenance, cleaning and breakages, according to Ramos. He also agreed that donating to one of the college’s scholarship “is a way to help other students who are where [the seniors] have been and it is a good way to leave a lasting impression.”
The Class of 2017 gave to the Student Hardship Fund, which helps students who are in extenuating circumstances or financial hardships and are unable to afford to finish their education at Westminster. The Class of 2018 gifted to the First Generation Scholarship Fund. This year, the senior committee for the Class of 2019 has decided to give to the Student Support Fund, which helps students with financial hardships, according to Ramos.
“We felt that during our time at Westminster we need to remember the students who come here,” Jazmin May said. “We work so hard to get students to attend Westminster but it’s also important to help them be successful during their time here. We never know what life can bring and sometimes we face unexpected obstacles. [The Student Support Fund] is to help support programs and students during their time at Westminster. When students face those unexpected obstacles then this fund will be here to help them out.”
Ramos said Westminster College recommends a specific and meaningful donation price to each graduating senior which still allows students to give what they desire. The recommended price corresponds with the year the class is graduating. According to Ramos, this year, for the Class of 2019, they are asking seniors to donate $20.19.
Seniors who donate to the class gift received a silver cord, the philanthropy cord, to wear on graduation day.
“We have tons of people give to the class gift every single year,” Ramos said. “Many still give the exact same amount they gave for their class gift, year after year. […] It kind of brings that connection back and helps you remember your time here at Westminster.”
Senior donations and alumni donations are meaningful to Westminster and the students who receive part of the funds, according to Gibbons. It also contributes to the Alumni Participation Rating (APR) score which is 5% of the colleges overall national ranking.
“It’s a way to give back,” Ramos said. “It’s a way to remember your time on campus, and leave a lasting impression on campus.”