This month marks an important milestone in the history of my relationship with Pacific University. It was in August 2004, 10 years ago, that I made my very first charitable gift to the university.
I had just attended my first alumni event, a “Boxer Send-Off” to welcome the class of 2008. I had a great time at the event and I must have had those new students on my mind when I popped on to the website and made an online donation for $25.
I was only a few months into chipping away at my student loan debt and early in my career, so at the time $25 felt like a generous sum. I took a moment to pat myself on the back for my generosity and went on with my life.
About a year later, I came to the realization that I could make a bigger difference if I set up a reoccurring gift of $25 each month. So I did.
Eventually I came to work at Pacific, but I continued my giving. It brings me great joy to know I am in good company in this effort – in an average year about 60 percent of my colleagues also support Pacific students through charitable gifts. I believe Pacific employees give at such a high rate because we see the impact of those gifts every day in the faces of students. I am fortunate to also get to see the impact among our alumni.
Last week I had the chance to visit with some friends of the University who were not alumni, but rather the descendants of alumni who attended Pacific in the 1920s.
One told us of his father who worked as the tennis coach when he was a freshman at Pacific in exchange for a small paycheck.
A pair of sisters told the story of their grandmother who hailed from rural Washington County and whose parents found they could no longer afford her tuition at Pacific. In response to this challenge she took a job in Forest Grove, rented an apartment and brought her two younger siblings along with her so they too could gain an education.
These stories were a poignant reminder of the need for philanthropic support of education. Each August we welcome hundreds of new students -- many for whom college would be impossible without the generosity of those who came before them. I was one of those students.
I never considered myself entitled to my education. I have never taken it for granted. Like everyone, I worked hard in school both academically and in part time jobs, but I know I was lucky to get that chance.
There countless young people in this world who will never have the opportunity to attend college. Not because they aren’t smart or because they aren’t hard workers, but because circumstances prevail to prevent them. For some it is simply a matter of money. For others there are cultural barriers. And for some it is simply more important to survive.
Given all of this, I know my gifts support new students on their quest for an education which will redirect their life path.
To say I am proud to support current students feels like a colossal understatement. The only way I can imagine repaying the kindness of those who funded the scholarships that made my Pacific University education a reality, is to give in support of new students.
As always, I want to hear your story. Did scholarship support make a difference on your academic journey? Did someone important to you attend college with scholarship support?
Please keep in touch! Share your news and tell us about your life.
Martha Calus-McLain '03
Director of Alumni Relations