Georgia College kicked off it’s inaugural Giving Challenge Sept. 10. The 48-hour online giving campaign asked alumni, faculty, staff, parents and friends to join together and make an impact on our students by making a gift to six projects that support learning at the university. This initiative brought in over $31,700, exceeding the goals set for most areas.
“The GC Giving Challenge was a combined effort between the GC Foundation and the colleges and departments to raise funds for priorities across campus,” said Julia Neal, assistant director of Advancement Marketing. “We partnered with units throughout campus and hand-selected projects that aligned with the deans’ priorities and supported the mission of Georgia College.”
These projects include Call Me MiSTER scholarships, College of Arts and Sciences scholarships, College of Business (COB) student travel, the Heritage Fund, nursing study abroad scholarships and library technology.
GC’s Call Me MiSTER—a program that strives to increase the pool of available teachers from more diverse backgrounds—raised $5,790 to provide scholarships for students who are from racially and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Call Me MiSTER helps eliminate barriers to the teaching field.
“One of the most considerable barriers to becoming a teacher is the cost associated with matriculation in a teacher education program,” said Dr. C. Emmanuel Little, director of Call Me MiSTER and Minority Retention. “So, we must be intentional about alleviating those costs as much as possible, particularly given that MiSTERs often come from racially and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds.”
Little hopes to provide at least two additional scholarships from gifts made during the Giving Challenge event. Georgia College currently has eight MiSTERs in the program and has four alumni, who are encouraged to give back to their community.
“I hope MiSTER alumni continue the program’s tradition of giving back whether via mentorship, participation in events as ambassadors or through fundraising assistance,” said Little. “More than this, I hope Call Me MiSTER alumni continue to uphold the standard set by MiSTERs nationwide as they ‘plant seeds of dignity in children and encourage them to cultivate those seeds, producing a crop of unprecedented success.’”
The College of Arts and Sciences (COAS) raised $2,645 from the Giving Challenge campaign. This funding will help provide the ability to offer an additional scholarship, while the remaining funds will be allocated toward another scholarship for underrepresented students.
“We feel it is important to provide these scholarships as a way for the COAS to help increase the number of students from underrepresented groups here at Georgia College,” said Dr. Eric Tenbus, dean, College of Arts and Sciences and professor of History. “We realize that [underrepresented groups] is an area where we, the college and the university, have work to do. We also recognize that the educational experience for all students is improved in a culturally, ethnically and intellectually diverse environment.”
COAS offers these scholarships to incoming first-year students, but Tenbus would like to increase the funding, so that students can continue to receive scholarships throughout their college education at GC.
“My hope is that we can attract more excellent students in this group to Georgia College,” he said. “If they meet the entrance qualifications, they will be in high demand from many universities throughout the state and beyond. One way we can mitigate that challenge is through financial means. The other is to continue to offer the high-quality educational experience for which Georgia College is known.”
Scholarships make it possible for College of Business (COB) students to present research at academic conferences or to compete in academic or business competitions. The COB and their supporters raised $4,150 for this purpose.
“These transformative learning experiences provide students the opportunity to improve their presentation skills, gain self-confidence and build self-efficacy,” said Dr. Dale Young, dean, J. Whitney Bunting College of Business. “They network with students from other institutions, sharing ideas and expanding their world-view.”
Funds raised from the 48-hour event will enable COB to support student travel. Each year approximately 35-to-50 COB students travel to competitions and professional meetings, such as the Grace Hopper Conference (STEM for females), American Marketing Association in New Orleans and programming competitions in Macon. Around 50-to-75 students participate in classroom travel to places like the Port of Savannah and the Lockheed production facility, while 20-to-30 COB students participate in study abroad each summer to countries like Australia, Spain and Germany.
“Some conferences include a career fair, thus opportunities for students to compete for internships and full-time positions,” said Young. “Our students network with business professionals to build interpersonal skills. For study abroad experiences, students gain from exposure to other cultures, life styles and business practices while gaining academic credit at the same time.”
The Heritage Fund supports GC students campuswide. Donations to the Heritage Fund go toward student scholarships, college support, student ambassadors, Georgia Education Mentorship, GC Journeys, Center for Student Success, Student Affairs, teaching and learning, graduate programs and more. A total of $3,830 was raised for the Heritage Fund during the Giving Challenge.
“Last year, donations received to the Heritage fund were used to provide scholarships for study abroad opportunities, as well as support undergraduate student research,” said Monica Delisa, vice president for University Advancement. “Funds also supported the Learning Center, Honors Program, National Scholarships office, first-year experience and the Writing Center.”
The School of Nursing raised $5,050 during the Giving Challenge for study abroad scholarships.
“These scholarships will allow us to help support those students who cannot afford to go abroad with faculty,” said Dr. Sallie Coke, professor of nursing, assistant director of graduate nursing, international coordinator and FNP program coordinator. “Every year, we have at least four different locations that we take our students—Honduras, Tanzania, Philippines and London. We take all levels of students, including our BSN, MSN and DNP students.”
According to Coke, students only receive partial funding when studying abroad.
“Most nursing study abroad scholarships are for $500 per student,” she said. “Depending on the location, we anticipate being able to give five to 10 additional scholarships as a result of these funds.”
“Through study abroad, I hope to expand our students’ cultural competencies, so they gain a better understanding of how our global health is intertwined,” Coke said.
The Russell Library hopes to purchase virtual reality (VR) equipment. Through VR, professors can enhance student engagement and facilitate individual learning. The project was 62 percent funded raising $1,880 to purchase four new handheld VR devices. The devices are all-in-one and won’t require the use of a PC or phone, making them more accessible to students.
“Virtual reality (VR) can assist students to more effectively explore topics and academic subjects, such as anatomy, geography, digital design and physics,” said Dr. Shaundra Walker, interim library director, associate professor of Library Science. “VR has been used to support students with special needs. Academic programs have also utilized virtual reality in recreating historic sites and virtual tours, as well as a new method of storytelling.”
“We are ecstatic our call for support prompted an overwhelming response. We’ve received donations from 282 of our alumni, faculty, staff, parents, students and friends,” said Neal. “Each development officer and project leader has done a tremendous job in promoting their project, garnering support from individuals on-and-off campus—making their project a success for both the GC Giving Challenge and our university.”
Delisa was also thrilled with the response of alumni and friends to the Giving Challenge. With another year of preparation and growth, she hopes to exceed $50,000 in next year’s Giving Challenge.
“Support during the Giving Challenge is a great way for the GC family to show its commitment to preeminence and to our students’ ongoing success. One measurement of a great university is the financial support it receives from alumni and friends,” said Delisa. “Thank you! Your philanthropic support will make a tangible difference in the lives of our students.”
To learn more, visit: https://crowdthunder.gcsu.edu/g/givingchallenge.