When I attended the Student Involvement Fair in the fall of my freshman year, I brought along a separate tote bag. In that bag, I collected flyers for every club possible: Model UN, Improv, Engineering Clubs, JHU Perch, you name it. There were so many options, right there, literally at my fingertips. That night I stumbled upon a flyer for a sketch comedy group with a large cartoon logo, and I pinned it on my wall, circling the date to audition.
Now, during the last week of my undergraduate classes, everything I do is colored with a sentimental tint. I keep filtering through old Facebook photo albums, trying to find the specific ways in which I have changed. I have joined and left groups that I thought would define me, my hair is now shorter and blonder, and the people I thought would be my forever friends have shifted. But it’s okay to make these changes and grow; this is what college is for.
This year I have been grateful for the opportunity to have served on the executive board for the Student Philanthropy Association (SPA). One subset of the SPA is the Senior Class Giving campaign. We seek to empower seniors to join our culture of philanthropy by making a gift of any amount towards a group, club, team, major or part of campus which helped them grow during their time here, or that they want to help improve.
Hopkins wouldn’t exist today without donations from alumni, parents, students and faculty. Senior Week, Spring Fair and Lighting of the Quads — all staples of the Hopkins experience — are 100 percent donor-funded. What would Hopkins be without Spring Fair?
I am constantly surprised with how much we can create for our community when we give back. In 2012, thanks to numerous donations from trustees and alumni, we now have Brody Learning Commons. Through generous alumni donations, we have 452 scholarships that attract and attain the brightest students, regardless of their financial backgrounds. Hopkins students even give back through volunteering with the Tutorial Project, the largest tutoring program in Baltimore, that brings 100 local children to campus weekly. In fact, donations are what keep programs like the Tutorial Project thriving.
Every donation makes a difference, and these numbers are telling. Last year alone, gifts of $25 or less added up to over $500,000. This could look like 5,000 Diversity Innovation Grants, 500 summer research grants, 38 fully funded study abroad opportunities or eight students’ tuitions.
Michael Bloomberg gave $5 as his first gift to the school. He has since gone on to give over $1.5 billion to research, teaching and financial aid. This year he gave an additional $1.8 billion, the largest philanthropic donation ever to an education institution in the U.S. for financial aid. As a result, Hopkins will be more affordable for thousands of future students.
By giving back, you choose where you want to make an impact, and when we all give back together, our impact multiplies.
I made my $20.19 senior class gift to that club with the goofy logo of a cartoon mouth, Throat Culture, in honor of the mark that it has left on me and the ways in which comedy has molded me into who I am today. And it may sound cheesy, but I love knowing that some future student may fall in love with comedy because of my little gift to sustain the club.
A donation is just one way I want to help the Hopkins community. It is exciting to know that something tangible from me is going exactly where I want it to go. It is a way for me to say thanks for the memories that I will forever cherish.
Rachel Underweiser is a senior Writing Seminars major with minors in Theater Arts and Studies and Jewish Studies from New York. She is Public Relations Executive for the SPA.