Last Word – Endow, Educate, Empower

Last Word – Endow, Educate, Empower

By the Class of 1970

With Covid-19 impacting all, including the financial stability of Wilson College with reduced numbers of students and online learning, we, the Class of 1970, had good news and bad news. We had an extra year to raise money, but the College needed assistance NOW. After a flurry of emails and feedback from the Director of Development, we decided on a step that released funds immediately but still allowed us to keep the minimum amount of $50,000 for the scholarship. Within days, our class donated $29,000+ to the Wilson Fund. This amount reflected the donations by the committee members, and so could be made quickly without a class survey. Concerned that our full fundraising would not be recognized, our committee was assured that our class would receive credit for the total amount of gifts raised.

Class of 1970 Commencement

Endow, Educate, Empower is our new reunion class tagline. It launches and encapsulates the ongoing effort to raise funds by the Reunion Gift Committee of the Class of 1970.

A special gift for the 50th-year reunion class is traditional. To that end, we wanted to share our thoughts on our processes, our adaptations, and how, during this trying year, as we neared our reunion, what drives our passion for giving to Wilson College.

The Class of 1970 has been a notable class in the history of the College. We were the 100th class to graduate from the school and one of the largest at that time. We were fortunate to celebrate that momentous occasion with Walter Cronkite and Mamie Eisenhower as President Paul Swain Havens presided over his last commencement ceremony.

For the five-plus years since our 45th-year reunion, we have been working on a special gift to Wilson — The Class of 1970 Scholarship Fund. After numerous ideas floated among our group, a survey was sent out to our class, and the scholarship option had the most support. Our class has been sent numerous reminders and appeals in traditional fundraising fashion. As our fund grew, we established new goals and were fortunate that anonymous donors challenged us to match the amounts.

Our team, which met regularly via phone calls (there was a time before Zoom!), received updates and support from the College. We mailed new appeals and thank you notes, and our scholarship fund grew thanks to all our dedicated classmates. We were so excited to be about to share the results of our efforts with the Wilson College community at our 50th-year reunion, the culmination of the Sesquicentennial Celebration. But then … Covid-19 reared its ugly head, and our reunion was postponed.

What drove us to come together quickly and address concerns we never dreamt of before a pandemic descended upon us? A scholarship for students for whom no college exists is inconsequential, and so our passion for a financially viable institution was foremost on our minds.

Beyond that, however, we are driven by the special place Wilson College holds in our hearts — the roommate who cheered us up over a disappointing grade, the after-dinner gatherings where laughter made us forget homesickness or the boyfriend left behind, the step sings, the Odd/Even dining room challenges, the campus dressed in autumn leaves, frost on the grass and the hockey field, silent in a covering of snow, the pink blossoms on the trees in spring, the College in a rearview mirror as we headed home for holidays and summer!

The memories and the friends are easy to talk about. Our intellectual growth may be more amorphous but equally compelling. An essay test for biology? We were not in high school anymore. We were taught the value of asking why, of challenging assumptions — and who was better at doing that than the Class of 1970? For many of us, the value of learning has become a lifelong pursuit, and we learned it at Wilson. We assumed a mantle of sharing and, thus, our focus on a scholarship. From the emphasis on enduring values and an honor code, we went forth into the world, and for many of us, we have lived those values every day.

We hope our journey is insightful and inspiring. We wish all Wilson students and alums the very best. And we urge you to remember that a gift to Wilson, no matter the size, is an acknowledgment of what Wilson has meant to us. Each gift helps to Endow, Educate, and Empower future generations of Wilson students.

Carole Ashbridge, Grace Jenchura, Beth Lange, Emily Muller, Becky Stout, and Lydia Saris-Mechenbier


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