ALEXANDER BROWN/THE HOYA Senior Class Fund Co-Chairs Elizabeth Abello (COL ‘14) and Peter Brigham (SFS ‘14) present $155,640.40 to University President DeGioia.
Senior Class Fund Co-Chairs Elizabeth Abello (COL ‘14) and Peter Brigham (SFS ‘14) present $155,640.40 to University President DeGioia.

Graduation ceremonies for the Class of 2014 kicked off as graduating seniors presented a class gift of $155,640.40 to the university during the convocation ceremony Thursday afternoon.

This record gift included both funds raised by the Class of 2014 and a percentage-match donation of $73,000 from the Board of Regents, which donated $1,000 for each percentage point of seniors that gave.

The Class of 2014 exceeded the Class of 2013’s $147,004.54 gift in both size and participation rate. Seventy-one percent of seniors contributed to their class gift last year, while a record 73 percent of graduates donated this year.

Senior Class Fund Co-Chairs Elizabeth Abello (COL ’14) and Peter Brigham (SFS ’14) presented the check to University President John J. DeGioia. “The [Regents’] Challenge has magnified the impact of senior class giving over the past several years and we’re grateful that they decided to do it again this year,” Brigham said.

While past years have focused on the percentage of the senior class that donated to the Class Fund, special emphasis was placed on breaking the record for the number of individual student donors this year.

“We decided to structure [the fundraising] a little bit differently this year. For the Regents’ Challenge this year, when we hit a given numbers of donors, we would unlock a gift from the Board of Regents,” Abello said. “We’re more interested in creating relationships between individuals and the university. We’re more concerned with the number of unique donors.” 1,249 seniors ended up contributing to this year’s class gift.

Marketing for donations to the senior gift this year focused largely on the impact that the donations would have for Georgetown’s posterity.

“This year, we’ve really focused on using every tool that we can — from social media to a presence on campus — to reinforce to seniors the impact of giving back to Georgetown and the importance of building our philanthropic legacy as a senior class,” Brigham said.

In recent years, the senior gift changed to a cash donation from physical landmarks around campus.

“When a senior class donates a bench or a tree, that’s it. You’ve given a gift, it’s a one-time thing, and you’re done,” Abello said.

Under the cash donation system, seniors can donate to any academic department, student organization, athletic team or other group of their choice. The $73,000 donated by the Board of Regents will go to the 1789 Scholarship Fund.

The convocation ceremony, held in McDonough Arena, also featured an address by Steve Silvius (COL ’07), co-founder and chief education officer of an education technology startup called Three Ring. His speech focused on forging unique paths and never shying away from a challenge.

“Seven years ago, I sat exactly where you are sitting,” Silvius said. “I was feeling good, like pop-your-collar kind of good, and I hope you’re feeling that way today.”

The presentation of the senior class gift followed the convocation address, after which Alumni Association President Mary Beth Connell (MED ’89) led seniors in affixing class pins to their graduation robes to represent the Class of 2014’s official induction into the Georgetown alumni network.

Tropaia ceremonies for the four undergraduate schools will occur Friday in Gaston Hall, during which awards will be presented to honor the achievements of students, faculty and staff. The valedictorians from the College and the McDonough School of Business will speak at their respective ceremonies. The School of Nursing and Health Studies and the School of Foreign Service do not have valedictorians.

The Senior Ball, which will be held Friday evening at Union Station, will conclude Senior Week, a period of festivities organized by the Senior Class Committee. Other events from the week included a class barbecue, a toga party, a field day on Kehoe Field, a keg party on Regents Lawn and the President’s Picnic at Smokey Glen Farm in Maryland.

“The President’s Picnic is the biggest, and I think most of our favorite, event,” Senior Class Committee Chair Cody Cowan (SFS ’14) said. “It’s nice to just get away, and to have all of us together.”

According to Cowan, planning for Senior Week has been underway since Disorientation 2.0 ended in January, with special attention devoted to alcohol-related events.

“The keg parties always have the biggest potential for disaster, just because they have alcohol, are giant and there are always worries about noise,” Cowan said.

After a fire alarm disrupted last year’s senior keg party in O’Donovan Dining Hall, this year’s two major parties have been moved from McDonough parking lot and O’Donovan Hall to the Leavey Esplanade and Regents Lawn.

For many seniors, the Senior Week festivities serve as a transitional period between life as students and life as college graduates.

“It’s the week between finals and graduation, so it’s a celebration of being done, but also a time to get together and both reflect and celebrate,” Cowan said. “It’s not just partying, there’s a lot of prepping for life after graduation.”

Undergraduate commencement ceremonies will be held Saturday. According to Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh, 1,429 seniors have applied to graduate. This number includes students graduating from the School of Continuing Studies and the School of Foreign Service campus in Qatar, which held its commencement ceremony last Sunday.

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