Why Students Give Back to AUC

Students share why they choose to give back through AUC Annual Fund
Students share why they choose to give back through AUC Annual Fund

When Charles Watson established AUC in 1919, he envisioned a University where students, whether on campus or in their communities, would learn the value of initiative and leadership.

“In our education program at this institution, we give large place to the development of initiative,” said Watson in the commencement address of June 1925. “We would not boast as though we have already achieved our aims. Far from it, we are only at the beginning of our program. … It is our aim [however] to develop scholars who will have in their lives the mainspring of initiative which will say, “I know, I can and I will.”

Nearly 100 years later, students across campus continue to work toward Watson's goal, whether by leading clubs and organizations, engaging in research or working to support the University.

For undergraduates Haneen Al Jammali and Mirna Khela, this sense of duty led them to the AUC Annual Fund, where they are working as alumni fundraisers and coordinators as part of the University’s work-study program. Through their job, both students support giving at AUC.

“What encouraged me to work for the AUC Annual Fund is that I want to help raise money for scholarships and financial aid,” said Al Jammali, a graduating senior majoring in accounting and finance. “The team of fundraisers is also very inspiring, always motivating me to do my best.”

AUC Annual Fund: Where the Money Goes

The AUC Annual Fund supports a wide array of University functions, including scholarships, financial aid, the library, sustainability initiatives and research development. Donations from alumni, parents and the external community –– whether individuals or corporations –– together help enhance the quality of University life.

Khela, who is majoring in integrated marketing communication, noted that it is this effort to enhance campus life and provide opportunities for bright students to enter AUC that prompts her to volunteer. “We have a cause, which is raising money for those who need it, and the AUC Annual Fund does just that,” she said.    

This year, donations were from 17 different countries, with 59 percent of the contributions coming from new donors. More than half of the donations have gone to support scholarships, and 48 percent were used where most needed, namely campus sustainability and development, improvement of facilities, laboratory and computer equipment, experiential learning, special academic initiatives, as well as faculty and staff recruitment.

Why Give?

Both Al Jammali and Khela noted that the biggest challenge they face is conveying the importance of giving to their peers. “Many students believe that AUC is already demanding a very high tuition, so why would the University need more donations?” Al Jammali explained.

The answer? Supporting AUC’s diverse community and, consequently, its standing as one of the top universities in Egypt and worldwide, as Khela put it. “Part of our job is gathering funds for students who apply for scholarships and financial aid,” she explained. “This all relates back to students because the money actually goes to them directly. If we didn't gather these funds, then the University community would lose those students who have bright minds but may not have the money to enter AUC.”

The tuition paid by each student only covers 60 percent of the actual cost of educating that student. In other words, tuition revenue only makes up 60 percent and the rest comes from other sources, including gifts. In that way, the AUC Annual Fund plays a key role in keeping the University tuition affordable for all students, not only recipients of scholarships or financial aid, added Al Jammali. “It’s important for students to participate,” she noted, “because they need to know the efforts that go into raising this money which, if not raised, would be deducted from their tuition eventually.”

So far this year, nearly 100 graduating seniors have donated to the Senior Class Gift. This puts the Class of 2016 on track to have the highest participation rate of any graduating class at AUC.

Alumni Connections

Reflecting on their experience with the AUC Annual Fund, Al Jammali and Khela agreed that the most rewarding part of their work has been connecting with the University community, both current students and alumni. “The most eye-opening experience I’ve had with the AUC Annual Fund was when I was required to contact more than 500 alumni and update their information,” Al Jammali recalled. “This experience showed me how diverse the AUC community is and how AUC has developed over the years.”

As Al Jammali pointed out, students as future alumni play a dynamic role in the University community. “AUC alumni have proven to us students how much the University gives us because alumni too want to give back to the AUC community,” she explained. At AUC, more than 80 percent of the Annual Fund contributions come from alumni. In the United States, alumni donations constituted more than a quarter of all college donations in 2014, according to the U.S. News & World Report.

Be it students or alumni, Watson’s legacy of initiative and leadership continues on campus in support of education at AUC, as Khela noted. “A lot of people donate to AUC, whether students, alumni, parents or others,” she said. “That’s because they believe in our cause –– preserving the quality of education at AUC and the heritage of the University as a whole.”