Senior class gift annouced

Kristian Biega, Staff writer

Each year, the Mercyhurst Senior Class comes together to raise money for a gift that will be left as a legacy long after they have graduated. This year, members of the Senior Class Gift Committee, with the approval of President Michael T. Victor, have decided to present Mercyhurst with the Sister Lisa Mary McCartney Senior Class Gift 2018 Scholarship.

This is the first year that the senior class gift will be a scholarship.

“Some past senior gifts have been removed and relocated due to the changes the campus has experienced, but this scholarship will never go away,” said committee member Natalie Koons. “It will always help someone and recognize the people who have made generous contributions towards another student’s future.”

This scholarship was named in honor of Sister Lisa Mary McCartney, the last Sister of Mercy to work on campus full time. The committee was concerned about losing a large part of our history as they are not on campus as much.

“We are losing such a big part of our history and wanted to name this after an incredible person who represents what MU was really founded on,” Morgan Wangler, senior committee member, said.

It took extensive planning and organization by the committee, led by Senior Class Gift Chair Lynne Gillott, to bring this scholarship to fruition for the university. The other members of the committee were seniors Natalie Koons, Austin Shinhearl, Morgan Wangler, Cole Lowe, Cristal Maldonado, Kimberly Kramer, Catherine Erway, Vanessa Steele, Jenny Sabliov, Cheyanne Crum, Amber Matha, Natalie Merucci and Troy MacMullan.

Planning began early in the year with meetings with Lindsay Frank, director of Alumni Engagement, and Caleb Pifer, vice president for University Advancement and director of Major Gifts, to discuss the purpose of the team and how to create a lasting gift.

President Victor already had a scholarship in mind as the class gift for 2018, leaving the specifics of what the scholarship would entail to the team of students.

“After a brainstorming meeting with the full committee, we became really excited in realizing the freedom we would have with the creation of the scholarship itself,” Gillott said.

The team came up with five potential scholarships with unique credentials and themes that represented the Mercyhurst Mission: Sister Lisa Mary McCarthy Scholarship, Hurst is Home Scholarship, What’s a Laker? Scholarship, President Michael McQuillan Scholarship, and the Valor and Values Scholarship.

The committee sought help from the senior class, emailing them a poll of the scholarships and different ways to raise money to fund the gift.

“These polls and input from the seniors allowed us to see what the most effective way to get people involved and excited about this gift would be,” Gillot said.

The results narrowed down the five scholarships to a top three, leading the committee to split into groups of 4 to 6 people to represent each scholarship: “Hurst is Home,” “Sister Lisa Mary McCartney” and “Valor and Values”.

Each scholarship team was responsible for compiling a presentation of all necessary information for what each scholarship would entail. President Victor was focused on how they would connect with the Mercy Mission of the school, along with logistics: who the scholarship would benefit, how the donors would be recognized, what the recognition piece would look like, qualifications for the scholarship, who would sit on the scholarship board and the overall price for these aspects.

The Senior Class Gift Committee presented to President Victor, Frank, Pifer, and Betsy Frank, director of Executive Office Projects and Events, on Nov. 16.

“Every committee member was passionate about an aspect of his or her scholarship they were presenting and it was neat to see all of that come together harmoniously,” said Koons.
The final decision for the gift came on Nov. 20 as the board chose to incorporate pieces from all three scholarship presentations.

“I liked that everyone’s choices for the scholarship were picked in some way,” said Gillott. “There wasn’t any work that went unrecognized. A piece of everyone on the committee is in this scholarship.”

The scholarship will be awarded to a rising senior who has shown great resilience in the face of a personal hardship, along with a dedication to service, exemplifying the Mercy mission. The recipient of the scholarship might not be the most outwardly noticeable campus leader, but someone who makes a difference making all others feel that “Hurst is Home.”

The location of the donor piece, which will be a “wordle” of the House on Baggot Street, will be located in the Audrey Hirt Academic Center.

The final step for the committee is to fully raise the funds for the scholarship. Lev Kubiak has made a generous donation to match the class gift committee’s fundraising dollar for dollar up to $10,000. The Senior Gift Committee encourages the senior class to donate through supporting events such as the Senior Bar Crawl, Hurst Olympics, Senior Date Auction or by becoming a member of the Loyal Laker Program, donating $8.34 per month to reach an end-of-year goal of $100.

“Now that is picked, it is a lot less stressful now that we know what our money is going towards,” said Gillot. “Now the ball is rolling.”

There will be continued meetings for the gift committee during the spring semester, and all seniors are encouraged to join and give their input.