Thursday, May 20, 2010

Good Deed #15: Giving to my Alma Mater

Since graduating from College I have given each year to my alma mater's endowment. My first donations were directed to the football program. Despite my proud affiliation with the program, I have since made my donations to other areas of the school upon my father's suggestion. "Wouldn't you like to donate your money to an academic department or to minority students?" He asked.

I am awfully proud of my alma mater. I don't think I would continue to give each year if I wasn't. Even though I pay more each month in student loans than my annual contribution back to the school, I still feel a sense of pride in giving to the school that gave me the opportunities that I have now. Logically, it only makes sense that I would want to pass that on to others like me. Another reason for why I give is probably because I doubt I would be accepted again if I were apply nowadays. It seems that like the job market, colleges are raising their standards and admitting fewer of a percentage of applicants.

While I am proud to have gone to Merrimack I am equally disppointed in many of the decisions that are made at its highest levels. In order to attempt to spread the little influence that I hold, I have made it a point to put contingencies on my contribution so that it reflects those values that I believe are important to being a member of the Merrimack community.

Before I left on my flight to Las Vegas my friend BJ gave me one of our alumni magazines. On the cover read "Alumni in service of their country." My initial thoughts of the magazine were not very pleasant. I knew that it would talk about profiles of students who serve or served and the kinds of things the College was doing to prove they were "Patriotic." While I don't discount their genuiness, I do have to bring up their credibility or lack there of based on precedence. This magazine mind you is coming from the school that had denied giving myself and my friend Travis credit for our ROTC courses while we were Cadets on campus. Even after we brought the issue up to the President's staff, it quickly fell on deaf ears as we were relegated to obscurity without the college's recognition that we would soon commission as 2nd Lieutenants.

Last year was the first time that I reversed the trend of giving to the athletic department and instead asked the college to accept my donation on behalf of my fallen comrade who had died in Afghanistan last year. Enclosed with my check was a brief description of my friend as well as why her sacrifice was so tied to Merrimack. I suppose after getting the Quarterly Alumni magazine this year I could argue that someone may have actually read the letter!

This year I have chosen to make a donation on behalf of future minorities for which I hope there will be more. I have decided to also send along letter that I had balked on from last year.

I give back to Merrimack because I'd like to leave the little corner that I occupied as a student a little better than it was then or is now. Through my travels and experience I have seen the value of diversity in organizations as well as the sacrifice of young men and women who protect our way of life. These are not issues that are merely owned by politicians wishing to hold a public office nor are they theoreticals that hold little substantive water. Diversity and Service to Country are things that I deeply believe in and I hope one day my Alma Mater will believe in them too.

It seems like most things, we pay lip service to such topics. They sound great on paper and probably from a PR or marketing perspective make us look like we are doing the right thing. What bothers me as an alumnus is that I don't get the warm fuzzy that my Alma Mater is doing everything that it could to advance diversity or support veterans and troops attending their school.

This year I am finally asking the College to match any funds that I raise for the betterment of the institution. My requirement is that it goes towards the advancement of minorities in the admissions process. I don't think it is an overly advantageous goal, nor do I think it is outside the realm of the mission of the Augustianians. I hope that my donation is used in a proper fashion that would make the entire Alumni network proud of being a Warrior.