Daylong fundraiser, broadcast from Mack Hall, will support scholarships in four categories

It’s almost Giving Day, and Rebecca Garcia, a psychology major in her junior year, is grateful for what Norwich University has given her. She said she’s been educated and transformed. 

“In these two years that I’ve been here, I’ve … made a complete change and turnaround in my life,” Garcia, a New Mexico resident and 2020 transfer student said on a video heralding Thursday’s 2021 Giving Day. “And I cannot wait to give back to this school whenever I become the successful woman I have the potential to be because of this school.”

With a dash of panache and show biz, Norwich will broadcast events live from Mack Hall starting at 10:30 a.m. Thursday here. Minding COVID-19 protocols, Norwich officials, including Norwich University Alumni and Family Director Eddie Habeck ’99 M’10, and 29 panelist guests, mostly alumni, will keep their physical distance and speak to an empty auditorium.

Giving Day will raise money for four scholarships — women, students of color, post-9/11 heroes and active-duty Special Forces (College of Graduate and Continuing Studies).

Norwich Assistant Vice President of Development Reed Curry said the push for scholarships comes partly because of COVID-19’s fallout.

“Most Norwich students receive scholarships. This year, because of the negative impact so many students and their families have felt because of the pandemic, it felt right to celebrate how we can support current students through scholarship gifts,” she said. “The scholarships we are celebrating on Giving Day were chosen to highlight the different groups of students who make up the Norwich Family.”

Therefore, Giving Day will raise money for four scholarships — women, students of color, post-9/11 heroes and active-duty Special Forces (College of Graduate and Continuing Studies).

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Norwich University student Rebecca Garcia, lower left, discusses the value of scholarships in a video heralding 2021’s Giving Day. (Screenshot from video/ givecampus.com.)

In June 2020, the business news website CNBC cited several studies showing the pandemic having altered Americans’ college plans. A survey of more than 10,000 freshmen, sophomores and juniors from 200-plus colleges and universities by OneClass, a Toronto-based team of educators, instructional designers, engineers, and developers showed 56% of students reported they could no longer afford college. The poll, released in June 2020, also showed 49.4% of respondents saying they’d need to find financing. 

In May 2020, as Discover Student Loans reported, based on two polls, that 44% of college-bound students (ages 16 to 18) said they couldn’t afford to pay for as much of their education as they had previously planned. Each poll included 1,500 U.S. respondents.

As sweeteners for Giving Day donors, Norwich will offer a university-branded face mask, suitable for pandemic wearing, for gifts of $30 or more. And as during Norwich’s bicentennial runup in 2019, donors who give $1,000 or more will be eligible to have an Upper Parade Ground brick engraved with their name and a short message.

Norwich Class Giving Director Heather Socha said Norwich University’s Development Office set a donor goal (500) but not a dollar goal for Giving Day, which will use the #AllInForNorwich hashtag on social media. She added that some donors have promised matching gifts or challenges. For example, Larry Costa ’80 has promised to match $1,000 per donor up to $500,000. Other challenges will be announced Thursday.

Donations coming in

On Tuesday night, about 40 hours before Giving Day’s start, donations had already begun trickling in. Thirty-four donors had given $5,492. Scholarships for students of color led the way with $2,537. The Class of 1987 was atop a leader board for class year givers with $1,102.

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In a video for 2021 Giving Day, Norwich University student Jacob Gookin, upper right, said scholarships give students of color and diverse backgrounds opportunities. (Screenshot from video/givecampus.com.)

“Your gift will remind the Class of 2021 that the Norwich Family has their back,” the website said, “even when we cannot celebrate their accomplishments in person.”

Socha said the Giving Day livestream will feature group discussions (including first responders and the Classes of 1976 and 1991), giving updates and special guests, including President Dr. Mark Anarumo, who will close the day by demonstrating how to make a Norwich-inspired cocktail. Viewers will be invited to help name the drink.

On Facebook, Norwich sophomore Jacob Gookin, who is Black, said he chose Norwich because he wanted to attend a college where his degree represents effort, hard work and struggle. On the Giving Day video, the architecture major and men’s lacrosse player from Essex Junction, Vermont, said he also picked Norwich because scholarships help students of color achieve academically. 

“The generosity of the scholarships, the generosity of alumni permit a lot of students of color and students of various backgrounds to be here,” Gookin said. “It builds the future generation of leaders.”

Meanwhile, Garcia, a South Hall resident adviser, reiterated her desire to help future students.

“I want to be the reason someone is given the opportunity to come here and study and to become someone they’re supposed to be,” she said.


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