Class of 2015 Celebrates Record Fundraising and Participation For Senior Class Gift

More than 60 percent of graduating seniors donate $128,000 to the George Washington University.

Senior Alex Nowicki and graduate student Laura Shuey-Kostelac raise their glass to toast the Class of 2015 senior gift of $128,000.
May 15, 2015

By Brittney Dunkins

Clad in graduation robes and spring finery, members of the George Washington University Class of 2015 and their families, GW administrators and Board of Trustee members raised glasses of champagne in the air at Class Day on University Yard Thursday afternoon to toast the success of the record breaking senior class gift campaign.

“Today, we celebrate our collective impact through philanthropy. Through our gifts we leave behind a legacy that we can all be proud of,” said smiling senior Michelle Ryngel, who coordinated the 2015 Senior Class Gift Campaign with senior Alix Cohen. “President Knapp, we are so proud to announce that the Class of 2015 has hit the milestone.”

The sixth annual Class Day was a celebration of the philanthropic spirit and future accomplishments of the Class of 2015.

A little more than 60 percent of graduating seniors donated to the fund, raising more than $128,000 to support the university program or department of their choice, from academics and athletics to scholarships, student organizations and administrative departments.

The Class of 2015 gift is the largest given by a GW senior class to date, according to the senior class gift campaign committee.

George Washington President Steven Knapp praised students’ efforts on a stage flanked by two large blue flags with white stars, replicas of the flags used by university namesake George Washington to mark his status as commander-in-chief during the Revolutionary War.

The flags are being used on pins as a symbol of how GW is “Making History,” through the $1 billion philanthropic campaign, according to Dr. Knapp. He said that the accomplishments of GW graduates are what “making history” is about.

I am really impressed by what this class has accomplished. The fact that you broke the record and broke it so powerfully speaks a world of words of what you mean to us and to each other as a class, because you did this together,” Dr. Knapp said. “It is through you, yourselves, that we make history.”   Seniors gave individual donations to the university program, department or organization of their choice.

“Gan bei! Na zdrovia! Maisha Marfu! Afya! Salud! And cheers!” he said, offering a toast to the Class of 2015 in six languages.

This is the fourth consecutive year that students have met the participation and fundraising challenge set by the Board of Trustees. The “50 for 50” goal was met by students in 2012 and seniors reached “51 for 51” in 2013. Last year, 55 percent of the senior class contributed to the fund.

Ms. Cohen and Ms. Ryngel said that the success of the campaign was thanks to the hard work of committee members and the dedication of the students. They added that students take ownership of their funding pledge because they can give to the program, department or organization that contributed to their GW career.

“This leaves a lasting legacy for future Colonials,” said Ms. Cohen, who split her pledge between the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Power & Promise scholarship fund and the Society for Women Engineers.

It instills this idea in students that they can give to what they are passionate about and say, ‘I’m investing myself in this, and I hope to see it grow in future years to come,” Ms. Cohen said.

The sixth annual Class Day event was an opportunity for students to congratulate one another, sip champagne and eat cupcakes. The GW Alumni Association also encouraged graduates to write their “only at GW” moments made possible by faculty and staff members on postcards. GWAA will mail the postcards to faculty and staff.

A senior writes an "only at GW" moment on a GW Alumni Association postcard that will be mailed to the staff or faculty member who positively affected her experience. 

Among the celebrants were Alex Nowicki, a School of Media and Public Affairs senior studying journalism, mass communication and English, and Laura Shuey-Kostelac, an SMPA graduate student studying media and public affairs.

“This is a great event to look back on. You get to see people that you maybe took a class with but haven’t seen since freshman year,” Ms. Nowicki said. “It’s a nice sense of closure to come together as a university and have a send off to your undergraduate or graduate time at the university.”

Ms. Shuey-Kostelac said that the celebration also is a welcome break from hectic final exam schedules.

“At the end of the year everyone is kind of doing their own thing—exams, student organizations—and this is a great way to reflect on your GW experience,” Ms. Shuey-Kostelac said.