The senior class gift is a Furman tradition that for years has represented the personalities and passions of the students who select it. Some classes have chosen to support such projects as the 9/11 Memorial, the patio at Cherrydale, the amphitheater and the Timmons gate. Others have decided to establish scholarships or to designate their contributions to local charities.
For members of the Class of 2013, who began their college careers in the midst of the recession, their decision holds extra resonance. They have chosen to support the Furman United Scholarship Fund, which allocates money to students at risk of not completing their educations because of unforeseen financial circumstances.
Last year alone, Furman United provided aid to more than 100 students. Class president Stephen Tagert says, “We all have known someone who has gone through financial difficulties on campus. We are a family, and we’re here for each other when things are tough.”
He adds, “I think it’s just as important to keep students at Furman as it is to lure students in through scholarships. It is much harder to come to Furman, enjoy its community, and then to give up the experience than it is to never have been able to come at all. Unfortunately, I also know some students who have had to leave because Furman United did not have enough funds, which is a reason I hope this gift will be successful.”
Tagert says the class renamed the project the “Furman First Gift” because it is their first act of giving back to the university. “It’s a reminder that we need to give to Furman after graduation if others are going to have the same wonderful experiences that we’ve had.”
The effort has received an added boost from Greenville’s Daniel-Mickel Foundation, which is matching each first gift of $25 or more with $100. In addition, a group of parents is matching every $50 contributed by other parents of graduating students. To date, the fund drive has raised approximately $56,000.
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