How do you thank the place that changed your life?
For alums Jim and Wendy Core, that place is the Elliott School of International Affairs. The school helped launch their careers, introduced them to lifelong friends, and connected them to their future partners — each other.
So when they thought about ways to support the school, the decision to make a planned gift was an easy one to make.
“We have a lot of loyalty to the Elliott School,” says Wendy, ESIA ’94. “We wanted to do something special because we really care about the school. A planned gift is an easy way to make a difference.”
The Cores were struck by the simplicity of setting up the planned gift—a meeting with their lawyer was all it took to set up the trust, which will go toward need-based graduate student fellowships.
“We wanted to give the Elliott School the flexibility to use money for what they need related to graduate students,” says Jim, ESIA ’96. “We also wanted to support students who may need a lift and provide them with the opportunity to have a really great education in international affairs, serve the world, and just maybe be lucky enough to meet a wonderful spouse like I did!”
The Cores have supported the Elliott School and GW for years, both through philanthropy as Luther Rice Society members and through service as alumni volunteers. Jim served as the GW Alumni Association President from 2011-13, and said making the planned gift at the end of his term was a leadership moment for him and his wife.
“We wanted to make a statement that you can be a public servant and still leave a legacy that will have an impact on students and on the academic fabric of the university,” he said.
Their time as graduate students at the Elliott School left an impact on the Cores, shaping both their personal and professional lives. Their academic training prepared them for their careers — both worked in development consulting before joining the Federal government —and they met some of their best friends in their classes.
“Every Thursday night we were out having a blast with the Graduate Student Forum!” says Jim.
The strong sense of community at the Elliott School despite intense academic pressures was particularly memorable for the Cores. They recall lengthy study sessions with their classmates in preparation for their comprehensive exams, then a requirement for graduation.
“Graduate students came together to help each other succeed,” says Jim. “That sense of community was one of the great parts of the Elliott School.”
The Cores also understand firsthand the power of a strong alumni community. Wendy landed her first full-time job in consulting from an Elliott School connection. Relationships Jim made using the school’s alumni network with guidance from Lisa Stephenson and Tammy Wiles – who were working at the Graduate Student Career Development Center – helped him navigate the Washington job market after living in Seattle for several years.
“Their help is one of the reasons I became motivated to serve as an alumni volunteer because it works,” says Jim. “That was for me a watershed moment. It really helped me understand the value of a strong alumni community and what it can mean for students and alumni.”
Jim now returns the favor by mentoring GW students interning at the U.S. Department of State, where he currently works as a senior management analyst. Both he and Wendy gained valuable work experience interning while at the Elliott School.
“The Elliott School program is really structured to help students succeed academically and professionally,” says Jim.
He and his wife also stay connected to students and the campus community through networking events, lectures, and at men’s basketball games as season ticket holders.
“There’s an embarrassment of riches at GW—it’s hard to decide what to attend!” says Wendy.
The Cores are passionate about helping other Colonials succeed; a planned gift was just another way to show their appreciation toward the Elliott School and GW for giving them so much. They also see it as a chance to pave the way for another Colonial.
“We wanted to make it easy for deserving graduate students to study at the Elliott School,” says Jim. “A planned gift was an opportunity to leave a legacy that will continue on for generations.”