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Over the Top

By Sarah Rogers ′11

Setting goals is one thing, wildly exceeding them is quite another. This year, members of the class of 2011 decided their class gift would go not to a physical object on campus, but to the Annual Fund. They even earmarked their donations for financial aid and scholarships, and in support of campus life. Setting a modest goal of 35% participation, it would be an understatement to say they were astonished when the final tally came to an over-the-top 51%.

Rhodes has a well established tradition of senior classes making a gift in honor of their graduation. There are visible legacies of past classes. One of the first is the coach light over a southeast door of Palmer Hall from the class of 1924, the year before the college moved to Memphis. Much more recently, there is the Rhodes mace, given by the class of 2000, and the newly planted grove of 10 trees between Fisher Garden and the Rollow Avenue of Oaks, courtesy of the class of 2010.

It’s been several years, though, since a class has chosen to provide financial support to Rhodes, which can have an immediate impact on students, faculty and staff.

The Senior Gift Committee worked hard throughout the year to make it happen. Led by Amber Owens and Sarah Rogers, committee members—including Hunter Chandler, Ellie Connick, Jordan Cook, Jessica Fawer, Jenni Frierson, Joseph Hiller, Rina Ishii, Stephanie Mingos, Jessie Pearson, Anne Schaumburg, Dev Varma and Drew Wagstaff—met face-to-face with classmates, driving home the importance of the Annual Fund while aiming to create lifelong Rhodes supporters. That personal interaction was vital to the success of the campaign.

Also, several new efforts were implemented, including a live radio show broadcast over Rhodes Radio in the Lair featuring two station DJs. There was a more visible presence during Annual Fund Week, including a poster that showed up everywhere on campus, depicting a large puzzle. Seniors could add their name to a puzzle piece when they made a gift or pledge. Always on hand were members of the committee to talk about the senior gift. The All Stars trading card game, picturing senior contributors, figured into the week as well.

Having gone over the top in its campaign, the class celebrated with a Senior Gift Party in the Rollow Avenue of Oaks, a great way to mark a successful year and prepare for graduation.

Volunteering for and participating in the Senior Gift Campaign offered seniors opportunities to learn about the college, how it works, and the importance of giving back, no matter the size of the gift. By making a personal commitment, members of the class of 2011 hope to inspire other classes to reach new heights in giving by their support of the Annual Fund.