Thank you Fran for the generous introduction and for inviting me to speak at this great event, and good evening to everyone here tonight - Father John, members of the Board, faculty and administration, fellow alumni, benefactors, and most importantly, current students.
As Fran mentioned, I had the opportunity to speak at this event back in 2007 as the recipient of the Brassil Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship and I'm delighted to have the opportunity, now 10 years later, to share a few of my thoughts on the value and importance of supporting the College and its students through scholarships.
When preparing my remarks for this evening, I was digging through my files and came across a picture from this event 10 years ago and realized that the purple shirt I was wearing (this very shirt) was still hanging in my closet - definitely time for some spring cleaning!
A lot has changed over the past 10 years and I've grown a lot along the way - though fortunately, not at my waistline, because the shirt still fits…and for that I'm quite grateful.
Of course, I'm also very grateful for the many important changes that have taken place in my life since walking down the steps from Donahue and graduating from Stonehill College on May 20th, 2007.
- I moved to Boston and started my professional life in consulting at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
- I married my Stonehill Sweetheart, my wife Erica, at the Chapel of Mary, with Father John there to officiate.
- We bought a house.
- I paid off my student loans.
- And I made good on a promise that I made 10 years ago.
A Promise Kept
At the time, at this event, I said...
"Knowing personally how scholarships have improved my time here at Stonehill, I look forward to becoming involved myself as an alumnus. I have already started with my class gift donation and plan to continue giving back to the school that has given me so much."
In keeping with this promise, Erica and I are excited to celebrate today the endowment and first distribution of the Geoff and Erica Lennon Scholarship Fund, one of my proudest accomplishments from these past 10 years.
Inspired by Generosity
I'd like to thank the benefactors of the Alumni Association who established the Brassil Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship for the generosity they showed me 10 years ago and for the generous support that you, and all of the College’s benefactors, continue to provide to this day, growing each and every year. It was (and is) your generosity that inspired me and Erica to establish our scholarship and to make giving a priority in our budget.
With all of that as prologue, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the importance of supporting the College financially. The benefactors here already know the importance, so I'd like to speak directly to the students.
Jumping Into the Real World
Hopefully my message resonates with all of the students here tonight, but it will likely be most relevant for the Seniors in the audience who will be graduating in a few short weeks - jumping headlong into the “real world.”
You'll be met with the many new responsibilities that come with 'adulting,' as I believe new grads now call it these days…work, rent, utilities, taxes, student debt payments...that got a bit dark there, didn’t it? Sorry about that…this is supposed to be an uplifting event!
But I get it, I've been there, I know that your budget will be tight, but I'd like to encourage you to make giving to Stonehill, investing in Stonehill, at any amount, a real priority in the coming years.
Some of your friends might scoff at the idea of giving to the College after graduation and they won’t contribute, talking about how they already ‘donated’ a whole lot with four years of tuition payments.
And I get it, you’ve invested a lot of financial resources in your education, it’s a common rebuttal.
But I’ll ask this. Did you receive a great deal of value for that investment? Do you want others to have access to the same great, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that you had while at Stonehill? Assuming the answers to those questions are ‘Yes,’ I’m hoping (and know) that you’ll act differently than some of your peers.
What I hope you’ll remember is that you likely didn’t make it here all by yourself - many people, your parents, the benefactors here tonight, and countless alumni and other donors, made real sacrifices to help make paying for college a possibility for you. Soon you’ll have the opportunity to pay that generosity forward, to financially support the College and to make a real difference in someone else’s life.
We’re regularly reminded that ‘to whom much is given, much will be expected,’ so having been the recipient of such great generosity yourselves, I hope you’ll make giving back to the College a priority.
Make it an automatic, monthly part of your budget. And take advantage of the free matching dollars that your future employers might offer to leverage your giving further.
Making small, or not so small, automatic monthly contributions is much less daunting (and easier) in my view than writing one larger check at the end of the year – and those smaller contributions add up quickly over time. The effect is ultimately the same as larger one-time gifts, but for me, monthly giving is perfect for young alums with tight budgets who still want to have an impact. I think you’ll enjoy seeing the contribution on your bank statements each and every month as a reminder of the deliberate decision you’ve made to helping students.
And lastly, be ambitious with your giving. Maybe even make it a goal for yourself to be at this event again in 10 years – and no, hopefully not still as a student! – but as a benefactor, or even at this podium announcing your own scholarship, I can promise you that it’s a tremendous feeling.
Thank you and best of luck to you as you enter this next exciting phase of your life!