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MBA Class of 2017 presents check for endowment travel fund

Class gift MBA class of 2017With champagne toasts and good company, the 2017 MBA graduates presented their parting gift of $21,073.18 to Dean Robert Dammon at the annual Graduate Open House on May 19.

Part of the annual Graduating Class Gift Program, the money raised will go toward an endowment fund to offset the costs of travel expenses MBA students face while attending conferences, networking events, job fairs and interviews across the globe.

At a launch party in November, members of the graduating class came together to determine what their gift would go toward. The Class Gift Committee presented three options for the class to vote on. Co-chair Sanah Sabharwal was a huge proponent for hearing the voices of the class to create a unified effort toward a gift all would be proud to offer.

“For the class gift we had a lot of exciting brainstorming in the beginning in terms of what the class gift would be,” Sabharwal said. “What I love is that [the Class Gift Committee] chose three options and opened it up to the entire class to vote on it, so it was actually a unanimous voice of the class.”

Since the fall, students participated in tabling, networking and “Thank the Donor” events held throughout the year as touch points to get more students involved.

“The outreach of the committee made it very easy for us,” co-chair Daniel Leonard said. “When you’re in a class of 200, everyone knows everyone, so it’s very easy for a small group of individuals to reach out and talk about the importance of being a donor.”

Over 93 percent of the 2017 MBA class participated in the gift giving, the fourth year in a row the participation rate was more than 90 percent from the graduating class.

“The participation inspires others to give back,” Dean Dammon said during his remarks. “It’s important to give back, recognize and honor the individuals of the class and memorialize the class.”

Sabharwal was intent on leading efforts of the the Class Gift Committee because of the impact prior gifts have had on the community at the Tepper School.

“I have benefited a lot from my experience at Tepper,” Sabharwal said. “Academically it’s been an awesome experience, but personally I’ve made some of my closest friends here, and professionally I’ve got a job I’m so excited about. I didn’t think any of this would be achievable without the wonderful community at Tepper, so I wanted to do my part in giving back.”

Leonard, who also serves as the Graduate Business Association alumni officer, added that his drive to work on the class gift was to increase his participation at the Tepper School.

“This was a way for me to stay connected to the school without feeling like I was losing touch as I left the program,” Leonard said.

Of reaching 93 percent, Leonard noted that donations are still being taken into the summer.

“I think reaching the 90 percent level was an achievement we weren’t sure we were going to get to,” Leonard said. “We have about a month and a half left, and I’m sure we’re going to get to 99 percent.”

The portal to donate to the Tepper School Graduating Class Gift Campaign 2017 will be open until June 30 at tepper.cmu.edu/classgift.