Recently I had the opportunity to take part in a luncheon celebrating the generosity of the Collins Foundation — specifically, the Mary L. Collins scholarship that supports current Willamette students. The luncheon welcomed a number of recipients of the award, as well as members of the Collins Foundation board, many of whom are also Willamette alumni.
Listening to the three students share their experiences at Willamette over lunch with alumnus and trustee Truman Collins ‘86, I couldn’t help but be amazed, both by the impact of the Collins family’s giving and by these students, who have already made their mark among their classmates and around the world.
Two of the three had traveled abroad in service-related exchange programs, one of them more than once. All three spoke passionately about where they saw the need for change: the state of orphanages in Ecuador, challenging genital mutilation in Africa and addressing access to healthy food here at home. It was fascinating and inspiring.
Near the end of the luncheon, three of the student representatives spoke briefly about what the Collins Scholarship meant for them at Willamette. They were all involved in a variety of activities across campus, in addition to their studies. Their backgrounds reflected diversity in geography, ethnicity and experiences. Their majors were all different. One theme, however, was common among them: “We wouldn’t be here without your generosity.”
One of the joys of my job is being out on the road, meeting alumni and donors, and hearing about what Willamette means to them; but this luncheon reminded me that I need to also take time with the students. The interactions I saw taking place between representatives of the Collins Foundation and the recipients of the scholarship remind me why giving back matters. It’s not just because these are amazing, impressive students who will make us all proud, but also because of the impact this meeting had on the donors themselves. They’ve made a difference in the lives of our students, who will in turn make a difference in the lives of others as they leave us and move through their lives and careers. What else gives that kind of return on an investment these days?
Not unto ourselves alone are we born.
Denise Callahan '95, MBA'00
Interim Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations