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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Class of 2024 dedicates senior gift to mental health funding

The Senior Committee Gift Team has dedicated the class of 2024 senior gift to mental health initiatives, continuing a long-standing annual tradition of gifts given from the graduating class to future Middlebury students. The graduating class has left a gift to the campus community upon graduation since 1981.

According to a March 8 email to seniors and senior Febs from the class gift team, the initiative is currently 20% of the way to meeting its goal of 200 donors from the classes of 2024 and 2024.5. This year’s target increased slightly from the class of 2023’s goal of 179 donors, which was 40% of the graduating class last year. 

The Committee’s FAQ page notes that the class gift will go toward the Mental Health and Wellness Programs Endowment, a fund established earlier this academic year using a $4.9 million unrestricted gift from a member of the class of 1959.

Co-chairs of the gift committee this year are Catie Baxter ’24 and Gianna Palli ’24. The committee originally consisted of eight volunteers from the senior class, currently down to five students, who work with a staff liaison and Assistant Director of Annual Giving Amina Matavia ’23. Matavia and Dave Wilder, director of programming and events at the Student Activities Office, organized the committee. 

“It’s been rewarding and a lot of fun working with the seniors on this project,” Matavia wrote in an email to The Campus. She described feeling gratified by introducing seniors to the culture of philanthropy at Middlebury. 

As a recent Middlebury graduate working in the Advancement Office, she has been exposed to facets of the college and its alumni programs she was not aware of as a student. 

Naja Irvin-Conyers ’24, a member of the gift committee, expressed her enjoyment for working with Matavia and the rest of the committee on the project. 

“It has been nice to connect with all the different parts of my class year. We have all been in leadership positions before and all want to leave Middlebury better than when we came,” Irivin-Conyers wrote in an email to The Campus. 

The class gift was voted on by the committee following a group discussion. The committee aimed to select a gift that would have a genuine impact on the Middlebury community. 

“The Senior Class Gift is an opportunity for our class to leave a final farewell gift to the College: a way for us to leave a legacy and an impact on our alma mater,” the senior committee wrote in a Feb. 27 email to the class of 2024 and 2024.5.

“We talked about all the things that made our Middlebury experience, the good and the bad, and we talked about where we would want to see change. We wanted to ensure we left something valuable behind for the Middlebury College students and mental health just resonated with all of us,” Irvin-Conyers wrote.

Matavia encouraged the senior class to meditate on their values and their Middlebury experience as they considered options for the gift. The committee expressed in their FAQ document that a gift supporting mental health services on campus is important to meet the ever-changing needs of the student body.

“[It’s] a very sweet and appropriate gift given the events that have occurred on campus during our time at Middlebury,” Ella Du ’24 said. 

There have been multiple student deaths in the past four years, including the deaths of Evelyn Sorensen ’25, Ivan Valerio ’26 and Arianna Kamal ’27 this year. 

“I’m so inspired that the committee chose to donate to mental health and wellness. I think this is an important endeavor for the senior class—both financially and symbolically—and is a testament to the Class of 2024’s compassion and kindness,” Matavia wrote.

The initiative is in a high-impact area for students of all grades, but some students expressed that the relative scale of the Class of 2024’s contribution to the fund is small given the millions of dollars already going to mental health resources on campus. 

“I think it’s great but kind of moot,” said Julia Levin ’24 of the gift. 

Senior Gift donor goals are based on the number of individual contributors rather than the size of contributions, meant to encourage the act of giving rather emphasizing a monetary amount. According to the FAQ document, funds raised from the gift will support additional licensed counselor positions, along with facilitating retreats and other identity-based mental health work. 

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Seniors have the opportunity to make a donation of any size at go/seniorgift24. Students who donate $20.24 will receive a pint glass with the Middlebury College logo.

Olivia Mueller

Olivia Mueller '24 (she/her) is a News Editor.

Previously an Arts and Culture editor, Olivia is an International Politics and Economics major with a Spanish minor. Outside of the Campus, she is a spin instructor for YouPower, an avid runner and hiker, and a member of the Middlebury Mischords a cappella group.