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Future Alumni Association asks UWGB to thank donors

Megan Hanna, Life Editor
February 27, 2013
Filed under Life

Everyone knows getting a college education isn’t cheap. Between working weekends, taking out student loans and filing for aid, students can quickly find themselves stressed. But when a congratulatory letter arrives in the mail informing a student he or she has been awarded a scholarship, some of that stress instantly vanishes.

According to Tracy Heaser, staff adviser of UW-Green Bay’s Future Alumni Association, more than 300 UWGB students receive scholarships. These scholarships are created by alumni, faculty, staff and community members who donate to UWGB. However, donations aren’t just given for scholarships but also go to academic programs and other sources.

“Donations do a large variety of things, like pay for guest speakers, support study abroad initiatives or even keep the Arboretum trail in good shape — all costs that are not forwarded on to students,” Heaser said. “In this way, all students benefit from philanthropy to UWGB.”

To thank these donors, the Future Alumni Association will host UWGB’s own Student Philanthropy and Engagement Day Feb. 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the University Union.

The idea for this first ever Student Philanthropy and Engagement Day was created by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Affiliated Student Advancement Programs. CASE ASAP includes student alumni associations and related organizations across the world devoted to enhancing student involvement in areas such as alumni relations, fundraising and marketing.

Nearly 70 educational institutions across the U.S., England, Australia and other countries will participate in the day with activities focused on giving students the opportunity to thank those who have donated to their school.

At UWGB, a Thank-a-Donor table will be set up across from the University Ticketing and Information Center where students can sign thank-you cards and write letters to recent donors. Students who have been awarded scholarships will also receive a “360° of Pride” button to wear to show they’ve been personally impacted by philanthropy, Heaser said.

All students are encourage to stop by, and all who participate in the day will get a free treat and be entered to win a $25 gift card to the Phoenix Bookstore.

Future Alumni Association members also ran a thank you booth during UWGB’s new brand launch last semester but say Student Philanthropy and Engagement Day is the Future Alumni Association’s first big event. The new organization was formed last year.

“The idea of it is to engage students in the process of philanthropy for our campus, to make sure opportunities are still available for students and to counter budget crises,” said Rebecca Ellenbecker, Future Alumni Association co-president.

According to Heaser, donor funds help fill in the gaps in the budget — gaps she said are becoming more common.

“State and federal support is consistently going down, so that’s why we rely so heavily on philanthropy,” Heaser said. “The more that we get, the less we have to push forward onto students. Alumni become an important piece of the picture down the road, and I don’t think students are aware of that.”

Making students aware of this is one of the Future Alumni Association’s goals.

“It’s important that students understand the concept and where this money is coming from because when students graduate they’re going to get calls for donations, whether they graduated from here, UW-Oshkosh or anywhere else,” said Morgan Hansen, Future Alumni Association co-president. “It’s important that they understand this is a good thing and the things they benefitted from they can give back. It’s a 360° approach.”

The Future Alumni Association is open to any student, and both Ellenbecker and Hansen encourage students to get involved, not just for the benefit of the campus in encouraging future donations, but also for the many opportunities the organization offers to students.

Ellenbecker said involvement provides good work related experience and opportunities for internships. She also said they often work and volunteer with UWGB’s Alumni Association, providing good opportunities for networking.

“The people you meet through this organization can help you with everything from letters of recommendation, to experience, internships and connections,” Morgan said. “These are things you might not get through other orgs. I’m involved in a lot of other orgs, and I haven’t had those opportunities like I have here.”

According to Heaser, getting involved could impact students even after graduation.

“You’re here for a short time. What do you want from your alumni association when you leave?” Heaser said. “This is the opportunity to have that voice.”

For students interested in getting involved, a sign-up sheet will be available at the booth Feb. 28. Students can also email Future Alumni Association Secretary Chiara Boss at bosscl19@uwgb.edu.