A Senior Class Gift is a long-held Mercyhurst tradition in which a senior committee runs fundraising efforts to allow the graduating class to give back to their alma mater as their time there draws to a close.
The 2018 Mercyhurst Class Gift Committee is being led by seniors Lynne Gillott, Sports Medicine major; Austin Shinhearl, Hospitality Management major; Cole Lowe, Spanish Education major; and Natalie Koons, Biology and Dance double major, to provide Mercyhurst with an ongoing gift of the Sister Lisa Mary McCartney Class of 2018 Scholarship. This scholarship is a monetary fund that will provide up aid to deserving students who meet the committee’s criteria of an outstanding Laker.
Past senior gifts have included various stained-glass windows across campus, the Sr. Damien spirit bell and renovations to the Grotto and Great Room. This is the first year where a scholarship will be given by the graduating class, starting a new tradition of “paying it forward.” The idea of a scholarship was raised by President Michael T. Victor earlier this year.
“Reluctant at first, we asked for more information to understand how this would benefit the university as compared to a physical gift,” said Gillott. “After a good conversation, we know that this scholarship will stand forever despite any renovations or expansion of our campus. We will always know that this gift is living on even as Mercyhurst changes with the times.”
The Class of 2018 has a goal of $12,000 for the scholarship. Lev Kubiak, Mercyhurst Board of Trustees member, has offered to match the class’s efforts up to $10,000, meaning that the gift will potentially be $22,000 when presented at the end of the year.
“The Senior Class Gift Committee has been such a great group to work with” said adviser Lindsay Frank, director of Alumni Engagement. “They have worked so hard this year not only to raise funds, but to truly promote the idea of a scholarship as a Senior Gift. Since we made the change, they have put their hearts into believing and showing why it is so important for the Class of 2018 to pay it forward for other Lakers.”
Students wishing to get involved can make a one-time donation of any amount, or a monthly gift that will reach $100 total.
Lowe, the senior class gift committee marketing chair, said that the gift means a lot to him on a personal level.
“I grew up in rural poverty in a single-parent household, so I know how tight money can be, and also that education is the ticket out,” said Lowe. “If I can be a part of giving someone that ticket, then I certainly have carpe-ed that diem. Mercy really is about giving of oneself, and every little donation makes a huge difference in the lives of others for years to come. We are not investing in an object that is physically beautiful, but in the beauty of a person’s intelligence.”
Rising seniors can get involved by applying to be on the committee for the Class of 2019.
“On top of meeting some really amazing people, you get to raise money for the gift and participate in events that brings the senior class together before we graduate from Mercyhurst,” Shinhearl said.
There are many reasons to be a part of the committee, many of which were voiced by Gillott.
“Joining the Senior Class Gift Committee was one of the best decisions I have made here at Mercyhurst,” said Gillott. “It has helped me to grow both professionally and personally, all while giving back to the place we have all called home for four wonderful years.”
Morgan Wangler, senior Early Childhood and Special Education double major, highly recommends the experience.
“The senior class gift committee has been such a fun experience,” said Wangler. “I’ve made some great memories with a wonderful group of people while working towards a common goal: to provide a future student with some financial assistance in their time here at Mercyhurst. I would recommend joining the committee to anyone. Its a great way to help leave your mark at Mercyhurst. It’s a decision I would definitely make again.”
Interested students can fill out applications online, to be submitted by April 15.
“It is both rewarding and uplifting to see the progress of the gift and to know that we, as a committee, are changing the life of a future Laker without them even knowing it yet. I love this committee and I believe others would too,” Gillott said.