Young alumni take ownership in Georgia College
Young alumni take ownership in Georgia College
A mber Bennett Brannon, ’09, ’10, Evan Karanovich, ’12, and Zach Mullins, ’11, have taken ownership of what they say is their responsibility to Georgia College. They know the power behind helping students in need through their scholarships, but they also invest their time and energy in their alma mater.
All three have done service on the Alumni Board. Brannon currently serves on the College of Business Leadership Board. Karanovich and Mullins serve on the Alumni Board. And Karanovich previously served on the Young Alumni Council.
“I started donating to Georgia College in 2012, a few years after I graduated,” Brannon said. “I became involved with the Alumni Association in 2012 and, through this involvement, I saw the importance of financial contributions, like my scholarship, to the university.”
Karanovich and Mullins were Student Government Association presidents. Together, they offer the Mullins Karanovich Campus Leader scholarship, which stresses the importance of students learning leadership skills.
They rallied behind a purpose that they could both relate to.
“I've given on a monthly basis since graduating,” said Mullins, who believes small, frequent donations are as important and impactful as large gifts.
“I gave $20.12 as my first gift because that was the year I graduated,” Karanovich said. “But then it was on a more reoccurring basis when Zach and I first developed the idea of this scholarship. It just felt even better to give a more purposeful gift, knowing where the funds are going and being able to feel connected to it.”
“We found a lot of value in being involved on campus. That experiential learning added to my education—it was learning by leading,” Mullins said. “That is what drove us to want to help provide support for a student who could experience the same.”
Karanovich added, “For me, it was belonging in student government. My hope for this scholarship is to provide support and encouragement to student leaders. Often, these leaders are so busy involved in two or three organizations on top of going to school and trying to work. Any assistance would go a long way.”
Karanovich mainly wants students to know there are alumni who care about them and their climb towards achievement. This can be accomplished through giving time, talent or scholarships.
“When I was that age—just having a lot of questions and learning in-and-out of the classroom—I would’ve loved to have had young alumni, like myself, invest in me,” he said. “My hope is for students to understand we are here to encourage and cheer them on for success.”
Although Mullins was not always top of his class with grades and tests, he learned a lot about himself, his friends and the community in GC’s liberal arts setting.
“I learned about a ton of different things as a student by being involved on campus, which continues to help me today,” he said. “After having that experience provided to me by Georgia College, I want to provide another student who may not be as academically successful, the same opportunity to succeed both in and out of the classroom like I did.”
Like Mullins and Karanovich, Brannon also believes in the power of giving back.
“If Georgia College alumni impacted your student experience—pay it forward,” she said. “I recall alumni and community volunteers being my first feedback on a resume and a mock interview when I was a business student. Their willingness to give a few hours of their time had a lasting impression on me as a student.”
All three want young alumni to consider giving their time, talent or treasure to Georgia College.
“It’s our responsibility, as alumni, to give back and help those behind us,” Mullins said. “Part of leadership is boosting up others. And for those who have gone ahead, it’s very important to turn around and help bring the next generation and class up. I think that's a fundamental piece of your responsibility as alumni. We have to help the next generation of students who are going to be leaders. It should be a natural part of our university stewardship, and our duty as good alumni citizens.”
Karanovich loves the idea of stewardship, as well.
“Some young alumni served as my mentors and gave me something to aspire to be,” he said. “Now, at 31, I'm in that seat. But my hope is that as people are stewarding, they’re looking at what's next and being very present and intentional with how they're investing their time, talent and/or treasure.”
For Brannon, it’s also important to contribute time, talent and funds to Georgia College.
“I love spending time mentoring students, reviewing student resumes and listening to elevator pitches,” she said. “This has allowed me to give back to current students. By donating towards a scholarship, I’ll continue to support a future student and their education each year.”
All three alumni find value in giving scholarships, therefore it easy for them to budget for them.
“My husband and I value philanthropic giving and work it into our personal budget,” Brannon said. “If you’re trying to start a giving habit, the key is being intentional and purposeful. Pick altruistic missions that resonate with you and your personal values.”
“It's not difficult at all because I set it up as an auto draft and have been doing it since 2011,” Karanovich said. “You have to start somewhere. I started at $20 a month, and over time, it builds up to be quite a bit. The next year, you can bump it up to $10 or $20 more.”
“I think if you build the habit of giving over time, like most things, it will lead into something great,” Mullins said. “That’s the approach we took and has allowed us to be able to do that. We give in a very routine, systematic and thoughtful way in hopes it builds and leads to more.”