Feature


First-Time Donors Tell the Story

UCM Foundation 2009 Annual Report
By Dalene Abner

Everyone can remember firsts in their lives: first day of school, first pet, first car, first date, first presidential vote, first child. While some of life's milestones are major, such as taking a first step, others are less momentous, like starting a new job.

For thousands of Central Missouri alumni, fiscal year 2009 was notable for another first. It was significant because during the period from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009, they made their first gift to their alma mater.

Central Missouri's 8,575 donors represent all walks of life, from grandparents to current students. Despite one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history, individuals, corporations and foundations provided more than $2.7 million to the university in support of students, academics, outreach and athletics.

"Some 2,177 individuals became first-time donors to Central Missouri last fiscal year," says Joe Kremer, executive director of the UCM Foundation. "That kind of loyalty speaks to the mindset of our alumni and friends who believe in this university's mission and its commitment to providing a quality education."

Today interviewed four first-time donors: senior history major Matthew Seithel, firstgrade teacher Holly Trotter, third-generation business owner Eric Kolkmeyer and long-time political consultant Tom Wyrsch. While their stories are individual, their reasons for making a gift show common threads - they benefited from their education and now are paying it forward.

Some 2,177 individuals became first-time donors to UCM last fiscal year. That kind of loyalty speaks to the mindset of our alumni and friends.

"I have had so many amazing experiences here at UCM that I made my donation to the university as a way for me to give back for all it has given me," Seithel says.

Seithel says his best college experience was becoming a community adviser in University Housing. "I met so many great supervisors who have turned into role models, coworkers who turned into friends, and residents who have turned into mentees and companions. I learned a lot about myself personally and professionally, and I was introduced to a career that fit my personality in the best ways possible."

When he graduates in May, Seithel plans to teach English as a Second Language abroad for a year, then return to pursue a graduate degree for a career in student affairs. His long-term ambition is to become an academic dean.

One of his activities as a student was serving as an alumni ambassador. "Working with so many alumni and seeing the connections they maintained over the years influenced me to continue building those connections as well. After I was appointed to the Alumni Association Board of Directors, I saw it as an opportunity to give back to UCM for everything it has given me."

Seithel has advice for other students and recent graduates. "Although you may not have a lot of money right now, if you make a gift of any size to the university, it will allow you to have another connection to campus. You'll be able to take pride that your contribution made an impact on UCM."

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