Just days before their commencement on the National Mall, members of the George Washington University Class of 2015 were joined by their families, GW administrators, and Board of Trustee members to celebrate Class Day in University Yard on May 14. More than 600 attendees raised glasses of champagne on the sunny Thursday afternoon to toast the success of this year’s record-breaking Senior Class Gift Campaign.
“Today, we celebrate our collective impact through philanthropy. Through our gifts we leave behind a legacy that we can all be proud of,” said senior Michelle Ryngel, ESIA ’15, who coordinated the 2015 Senior Class Gift Campaign with senior Alix Cohen, SEAS ‘15.
More than 60 percent of graduating seniors donated to the university program or department of their choice—from academics and athletics to scholarships, student organizations, and administrative departments—raising more than $128,000 since the start of the academic year. In addition to making the largest gift from a GW senior class to date, the Class of 2015 had the highest giving percentage in the more than 30 year history of the Senior Class Gift Campaign.
During the celebration, the soon-to-be graduates also wrote their “only at GW” moments made possible by faculty and staff members on postcards. The GW Alumni Association will mail the postcards to faculty and staff.
George Washington President Steven Knapp praised students’ efforts on a stage flanked by two large Commander-in-Chief flags. The flags, 13 white stars on a field of blue, are replicas of the one said to be personally designed by university namesake George Washington and used during the Revolutionary War as an emblem of the general and the cause for which he fought.
GW has adopted the flag as a symbol of Making History: The Campaign for GW, the university’s $1 billion philanthropic effort launched last June. The flags marked campus locations where philanthropy has made a difference as part of GW Flag Day earlier this spring and emblazon pins worn by Making History supporters.
President Knapp said that the accomplishments of GW graduates are what “making history” is about.
“I am really impressed by what this class has accomplished. The fact that you broke the record and broke it so powerfully speaks a world of words of what you mean to us and to each other as a class, because you did this together,” President. Knapp said. “It is through you, yourselves, that we make history.”
Michelle and Alix said that the success of the campaign was thanks to the hard work of committee members and the dedication of the students. They added that students take ownership of their funding pledge because they can give to the program, department, or organization that contributed to their GW career.
“This leaves a lasting legacy for future Colonials,” said Alix, who split her pledge between the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Power & Promise fund and the Society for Women Engineers. “It instills this idea in students that they can give to what they are passionate about and say, ‘I’m investing myself in this, and I hope to see it grow in future years to come.’”