Class of 2016 Sets Participation Record for Senior Class Gift

Senior class gift committee announces 62.7 percent of graduating seniors donate to GW.

George Washington University graduating seniors gathered Thursday for the annual senior class toast and presentation of the class gift. (Zach Marin/GW Today)
May 13, 2016

By Brittney Dunkins

Just hours after celebrating with other George Washington University School of Business graduates Wednesday, Kaley Pomerantz stood on University Yard in a dark blue robe, yellow sash and graduation cap.

Ms. Pomerantz was among the nearly 500 graduating seniors who anxiously awaited the announcement of the senior class gift, a year-long donor campaign that will serve as a legacy of the class of 2016.

“I donated to the business fraternity Alpha Kappa Psi because it was a defining moment of my experience,” Ms. Pomerantz said, smiling. “Donating is important, because it means giving back to a university that has given me so much opportunity and making sure future generations have as great of an experience as I have had.”

Shortly after, Senior Class Gift Campaign lead coordinator Juman Kekhia announced that a record 62.7 percent of graduating seniors donated to GW. Together, the gifts total to more than $87,500. 

“This year we set out to make history with the most successful senior class gift campaign to date,” Ms. Kekhia said to applause. “We are so proud to announce that we have hit our milestone.”

Following the announcement, George Washington President Steven Knapp led graduating seniors, members of the Board of Trustees, staff and faculty in a toast to salute the hard work of the Class of 2016.

“Just a few short years ago participation was at the 50 percent mark, and now you have reached more than 62 percent,” Dr. Knapp said. “Seeing what you have accomplished, I know that we are in very good hands as a nation and a world.”

The GW Division of Development and Alumni Relations hosted the event, which marks graduating seniors transition to GW’s network of more than 275,000 global alumni. The Commencement week tradition features champagne, cupcakes, commemorative sunglasses and a class photo.

GW Board of Trustees Chair Nelson A. Carbonell, B.S. ’85, encouraged graduating seniors to “build a habit of giving back” to GW.

“Today, we proudly acknowledge you as new alumni and donors and supporters for the future,” Mr. Carbonell said.

George Washington University Board of Trustee members, graduating seniors, faculty and staff stand with (front row l-r) Nelson A. Carbonell, Senior Class Gift Committee coordinators Cindy Swanson, Kristen Barnes and Juman Kekhia and George Washington President Steven Knapp. (Zach Marin/GW Today)

Class of 2016 donors also were recognized at a special reception Wednesday evening along with members of GW Loyal and the Luther Rice Society. Graduating seniors received special commencement cords to honor their role as donors.

Luther Rice Society Advisory Council Co-Chair Philip Leibow, B.B.A. '87, M.S. ’89, called the growing culture of philanthropy among current students an “exciting” transformation.

“The class of 2016’s commitment to supporting the university is amazing, Mr. Leibow said during his brief remarks. “The university, the Luther Rice Society and GW alumni appreciate everything that has been done by students who agreed to give while they are in college, which is almost unheard of.”

According to tradition, donors make individual donations to the GW program or department of their choice, from academics and scholarships to athletics and organizations. The personalization allows each Colonial to feel a connection to how they build a legacy at GW.

GW Senior class photo (Photo Credit/Dave Scavone)

Ms. Kekhia said that she supported GW Balance because the student ballet troupe allowed her to continue to pursue a passion for dance when she came to GW.

Senior gift assistant coordinators Cindy Swanson and Kristen Barnes allocated their donations to the GW Department of Psychology, the GW chapter of the NAACP and the Power & Promise scholarship fund, respectively.

“Scholarships are what made it possible for me to come to GW,” Ms. Barnes said “I want to make sure that future Colonials have the same opportunities that I had.”

Student Life, Brittney Dunkins