Towards the end of my senior year, I reflected on what Penn had given me and contemplated my new relationship to the school – as an alumni and donor. So as I entered this new role, I thought a lot about why and how I want to give.
In terms of why: I want to support the best of my own college experience. Penn was defined by relationships, especially with friends, faculty, and staff. These relationship built spaces on campus where I knew I belonged and where, through that sense of belonging, I could excel. At the LGBT Center, I enjoyed having a space on campus where I could convene non-LGBT student groups, bring in peers who may not have otherwise come into the building, and connect them to the resources of the center. Above all, I valued the support I received from other students and staff, especially Erin Cross, Bob Schoenberg, and Rebecca Schept. These are the relationships that defined my Penn experience.
On to the how: in a university like Penn, I know I am not, and likely never will be, a major donor. Nevertheless, I want to give in a way that reflects my values and maximizes my impact. I could give unrestricted dollars or broadly to the Penn Fund, but giving to the LGBT Center makes me feel like my gift matters – because I know the kinds of staff, programs, and services my gift will support.
As a student, it is often hard to conceive of Penn after you’ve graduated, but it is the crucial work of the LGBT Center staff to make the Penn we experienced and the Penn that will come after us. When I was a student, the LGBT Center staff was in the early phases of making a gender-neutral restroom map and they were, as I remember it, essentially told it was impossible. Today there is a gender-neutral restroom map. These improvements, however large or small, are made because of the people who are at Penn for more than four years. Giving is how I continue to support their work.