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STUDENT LEADER DEVELOPS 'GIVING HEART' WHILE DIRECTING STUDENT FUND-RAISING GROUP
Brooklyn Olsen cannot talk about the matching scholarship fund drive on campus without crying.
She cried a year ago when she talked with the donor who pledged to match donations from students, faculty and staff; she cried this month when she thanked students for helping to raise $14,500; and she cried when she described how serving as chairman of the on-campus fund-drive had fundamentally changed her life and softened her heart.
"I never thought that people my age could or would donate to something like this," Olsen said. "I am touched by the generosity of so many."
Last semester, the College asked Olsen, who serves as financial vice president for student government, to oversee efforts with students to raise money for scholarships as part of a one-year campaign. A donor pledged to match on-campus donations three-to-one if students, faculty and staff donated $12,500 or more by March 31. Olsen put together a team of six students and they went to work, creating posters, talking to students in Institute classes, conducting a telethon, hosting two benefit dances and a movie night, making announcements at devotionals and helping to host a donor appreciation dinner.
Olsen said her team had energy and enthusiasm, but despite their optimism she said she wondered at first if this small campus community could raise that much so quickly.
"It seems like a lot of money," she said.
Students, faculty and staff have met the team's original goal, Olsen said, but with two months remaining Olsen and her team have raised their goal to $17,000.
When matched, the total donation to the College scholarship fund would equal $68,000.
"This would provide a scholarship for many students," she said.
Olsen said beyond the scholarship money donated, the campaign the fund drive has had significant other benefits. It has unified students and given them a greater appreciation for faculty and staff as they've seen their generosity. A number of students have made significant personal sacrifices to donate and others have felt an increased desire to give back to the College in other ways. She noted that one student, who works as a dance deejay, offered to donate his services as a way to help. Other students also have talked about how they might give of their time or talents.
"I hope this continues on," Olsen said. "There is a spirit and feeling that comes with giving and students have felt the importance of that."
Olsen added, "I know this has changed my outlook for the future. It's amazing how much my view of my finances has changed. I'm increasingly grateful for what I have, and I have a stronger desire to give to others. No matter how much I may struggle in my life financially, I plan to always give to others."
March 3, 2003
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