A few weeks ago, I was honored to be the keynote speaker at my alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Boston, for the “Celebration of Support”, an annual event which brings together scholarship students and donors. Not only am I an active ambassador for my alma mater, I am a believer in the value of such stellar public higher education opportunities for all. And, in the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is, I established a small endowment in my parents’ names to help other young people obtain the opportunities I did so many decades ago.
I was preceded at the podium by an incredibly talented young woman whose hard-working father had single-handedly raised a family of daughters and was proudly watching the first of his family get ready to graduate from college. The look on his face as he listened to his daughter thank her family and her university was priceless. She was smart, articulate, grateful and full of opportunity to go on in a career designed to help others.
How could I follow that wonderful student? How could I put into words what it meant to be part of her success and achievement? All I could do was tell my own story starting with an education which laid the foundation for me to go on to law school, develop a successful practice working with small business owners, and come full circle back to the campus that provided the support I needed to pursue my career. But of all my many roles as a proud U Mass Boston alum, none makes me more proud and humble than being a small part of a student’s success. I so look forward to the day when I will meet the first James and Joanne McCarthy Student Success Fund recipient. Now that really will be full circle!
Many of the donors in the room were sharing the experience of meeting their first scholarship student … someone who had actually benefitted by their generosity … and the pride they felt in meeting “their student” was visible. The warm relationship between small donors and student recipients is palpable … after all, it’s a stretch for many alums to give endowment dollars, but it is a stretch that rewards again and again and again. It’s a gift from the heart and an investment from the head … after all, almost 80% of U Mass Boston graduates stay right here in Massachusetts and give back to their communities. So the circle continues.
Gift giving opportunities are not limited to the holiday season, so get in touch with your inner philanthropist now [never mind what happens with the charitable tax deduction… give because it feels so good!]. If you need more encouragement, visit the vast array of gift giving opportunities at my alma mater and feel good http://www.umb.edu/giving/reports/report2011/studentsuccess ! Check out the YouTube clip of grateful U Mass Boston students, then move down the page and give to the University that supports those very students’ success.