Thanksgiving is around the corner and many people share stories about why and for what they give thanks. This Tommie Give Day, which is on Tuesday, Nov. 9, is an opportunity for many people in the university community to give thanks and to give back.
One student who is thankful for the generosity of others who helped provide a pathway for their college education is Sabina Bahr. Bahr is a scholarship recipient and first-year neuroscience student working in library collections at the university.
“Money has always been a cause of anxiety and hardship,” Bahr told donors who provided funds for her to attend St. Thomas. “Thank you for this amazing opportunity to learn, to dream and, hopefully, to succeed.”
At St. Thomas, 93% of students receive some amount of scholarship or financial aid. A large percentage of these funds come from alumni, donors, mentors and friends who give because of the faith they have in these students and in St. Thomas to provide a quality education steeped in a long liberal arts tradition.
This seventh annual Tommie Give Day, the university will be raising funds for scholarships and access to the transformative St. Thomas experience. To achieve a goal of 2,021 donors, the entire Tommie network is invited to participate. Gifts of any amount are accepted through an online portal for this fundraiser. All donors with gifts of $60 or more will receive the 2021 signature Tommie Give Day socks as a token of gratitude.
Thanks to a generous Challenge Fund provided by the university's Board of Trustees, gifts will be matched dollar for dollar and aim to help achieve other challenges as well.
“Every gift - no matter the amount - makes a difference,” said Jessica Etten '18 MBA, senior director of campaign management. “Tommie Give Day is about celebrating the impact we can make collectively.”
Last year, the university raised a record-breaking $1.78 million for Tommie Give Day. Since its inception in 2015, Tommie Give Day has generated nearly 11,000 gifts and $4.8 million in support of students.
“Being able to attend school and not have to constantly worry about the tuition or the burden that the cost is putting on me and my parents is a big relief,” said Ebenezer Abiy Araya, a sophomore in computer science who received a scholarship to attend St. Thomas.
"Supporting the St. Thomas Scholarship Fund fund is a great way to participate, and donors can also give to a specific passion area - whether that's to one of our colleges or schools, Athletics or another area within the university," Etten said.
The School of Engineering is directing donors to a memorial scholarship named in honor of Charlie Johnson '21, a mechanical engineering student who passed away the day of his 2021 graduation.
“The Charlie Fund was established to provide study abroad experiences for students who otherwise could not afford to go,” said School of Engineering Dean Don Weinkauf. “Charlie fully embraced international travel and the cultural awareness that comes from immersing oneself in the world.”
Buffy Smith, interim dean of Dougherty Family College (DFC), encourages donors to be a part of its promise to scholars by donating to the Dougherty Family College Scholarship Fund. “In order to ensure access and opportunity, we provide every DFC scholar with a $6,500 scholarship. We are committed to access and opportunity,” she said.
St. Thomas’ ThreeSixty Journalism program provides more than $150,000 in program scholarships each year to high school journalists and storytellers from all backgrounds. ThreeSixty’s goal is to raise $40,000 this year.
The final total raised across the university for Tommie Give Day will include all donations made to the university, no matter the designation.
"Although the goal is to raise more funds than last year's Tommie Give Day, what's most important is the impact of donor support in the lives of students," Etten said.
“I plan on obtaining my bachelor's in computer science and making my family proud as a first-generation African American college student,” said Araya. As for the scholarship he received, he wrote a letter to donors that said, in part, “I sincerely thank you for this donation and I'll assure you that it doesn't go to waste."