Every little bit counts: Cliché it may be, but Emily Litman C’99 can attest to its truth. As a high school senior, she had her heart set on Drew, but knew that her dream college was a bit of a stretch. Two days before the enrollment deadline, news of a last-minute scholarship tipped the college-of-choice calculus in favor of Drew. “Drew truly did change my life,” says Litman, now a fifth-grade teacher and ever appreciative of the generosity “that made my amazing Drew experiences possible.”
That’s why she was so taken with an idea proposed by her longtime friend Carla Brady C’99: Let’s structure our class scholarship to benefit current Drew students for whom a little help will make a big difference. Starting in 2015, thanks to the marshalling prowess of Litman, Brady, fellow classmate Steve DeLuca, and the C’99 reunion committee, the generosity of many class members was sparked, and the Class of 1999 Scholarship was successfully endowed. Starting in 2015, the C’99 Scholarship will be given to one or more continuing Drew students who, because of unforeseen financial circumstances, may not otherwise be able to complete their Drew studies. In endowing the scholarship this year in honor of their 15th reunion, the Class of 1999 becomes the 17th in Drew history to endow a class scholarship.
“This is quite a feat for a class only 15 years out of college,” says Jane Driscoll Himmelrich, director of donor relations and stewardship, “and we’re deeply grateful to the many who made this new scholarship a reality, as well as those in other classes who are doing the same.” Since the start of the One And All campaign—the first major fundraising effort for Drew in a decade, and its most ambitious to date—the number of endowed class scholarships has increased by 89 percent, with the Class of 1999 Scholarship being the most recent.
Alumni support is a big reason that Drew can be so generous with student scholarships, to the tune of $30 million a year. For many students, these college-based scholarships hold the promise that a Drew education—full-impact learning in a small-college setting—can be more than an aspiration, and often at a price tag comparable to that of a New Jersey state college.
“Drew students are doing fantastic things,” says Brady, a daily witness to their boundless energy in her role as assistant director of student activities, “but sometimes they can run into a financial problem with needing an extra class or finishing that last semester. Emily and I thought it was important to help these students finish up and become our fellow Drew alumni.”
Fittingly, the Class of 1999 pooled many smaller donations into a scholarship that will have a big impact, with Litman and Brady rallying their classmates through phone calls, social media, and personal appeals at campus events and alumni gatherings. “People feel like they can’t contribute because they can’t write a check for $10,000,” explains Litman, the recipient of the 2014 Alumni Volunteer Award. “But the important thing is not what you give but that you give. I always tell people, ‘If you can only write a check for $1, then write a check for $1.’
“So many of us received help to fund our Drew educations,” she continues, pointing, as an example, to her own sophomore-year travel-study seminar in Yemen for which she received a Drew scholarship. “I want to ensure that future generations will be just as fortunate as I was to benefit from the generosity of others.”—Lori Chambers