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Celebrating Keene State’s Donors

Story By:
Stuart Kaufman | Writer/Editor

At Keene State, we don’t just appreciate our donors; we celebrate them – and thank them. This fall, for the third straight year, the Keene Endowment Association (KEA) in conjunction with the College’s Development office held a fall Celebrate Momentum event. Held in the Mabel Brown Room of the L. P. Young Student Center, the event brought together leading contributors to the College and some of the students who have benefited from their generosity. Its title reflects that philanthropy makes things happen for striving students and keeps the College moving forward.

“The point of the evening is to match up our donors with our stellar students and scholarship recipients on campus,” said Lindsay Taflas, acting director of annual giving. “I know the donors love to actually put a face to the name of their scholarship recipient and hear their story. Conversely, the students get to thank the donors in person.”

“It means the world to me,” said Myles Dumas, a senior math/computer science major who commutes to KSC from Gardner, MA. “I definitely wouldn’t be able to come here if not for these donors, and being able to meet them has just been great.”

“This is my second time coming to this event and I’m very grateful to be here,” said Mylynda Gill, a senior from Fitzwilliam, NH, who is pursuing degrees in psychology and English. “With the help of the donors I was able to return to school this fall after being diagnosed with a brain tumor last year. I wasn’t able to work as much and the donor scholarship money really helped me.”

According to KEA President Scott McPherson ’92, the Association—an independent nonprofit that exists to raise money and manage endowment gifts to the College on behalf of the students and academic programs—awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to 210 students last year from endowed funds created by individuals or organizations.

Begin pull-quote…Keene State gave me a wonderful foundation in terms of knowledge and human relations skills and gave me an opportunity to explore and discover who I was and what I wanted to do. Providing a scholarship makes us feel that we are giving what we were given. …end pull-quote
– Nelson Megna ’59

Many of the donors are Keene State grads. On hand, for instance, were Robert Simpson ’73, whose employer Fidelity Investments has a matching charitable gift program, and Jean Pollack ’57 and her husband, Richard, and cousin Linda Jacobson ’69, who are part of the Arthur “Joe” Giovannangeli Jr. family that set up a living memorial. Two of the most poignant speakers were KSC grads Nelson ’59 and Dorothy ’58 Megna, who conveyed their inspirational Keene State story and why they were motivated to contribute.

“Keene State gave me a wonderful foundation in terms of knowledge and human relations skills and gave me an opportunity to explore and discover who I was and what I wanted to do,” said Nelson Megna, who had to leave Keene Teacher’s College after his sophomore year to work and earn money so he could return to continue his education. “Providing a scholarship makes us feel that we are giving what we were given.”

Two students, Lauren Bennett, a senior education/psychology major from Riverside, CA, and Samuel Irvine, a senior music major from Concord, NH, were nominated by faculty members to tell their stories. Bennett, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and Kappa Delta Pi international honor society in education, spoke about her journey from a large university in California to the smaller and more personable Keene State—and how financial support enabled her to create meaningful connections with faculty and staff and further her education. Irvine, who plays trombone in the College brass and jazz ensemble and concert band orchestra, said that his scholarship provided him the time to devote to his major. He told donors, “If not for your generosity, it’s likely I would never realize my true passion that I plan to practice for the rest of my life. Words cannot express my gratitude.”

Elizabeth Christian, a nursing major from East Otis, MA, said the remarks at the event were really empowering. “Since I’m a senior and I will graduate, it makes me want to be one of these donors that give back to my Keene State community,” she said.

“Sometimes in life we get to meet the people whose life we touched, and sometimes in life we don’t. But as we get to know, as people who give to a community like Keene State, is that gift lives on, and whether we meet them or not we have made a difference,” said KSC President Anne E. Huot during closing remarks. “I’m looking forward to knowing what the students do with their lives as they go forth to serve—here, near, far, abroad. I know they are going to make a difference, and I think for those of us who are donors to the College, you should feel very proud of that.”

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