Students show their gratitude during Foundation Week

During the spring semester, the Foundation Attachés, a group of NCSSM-Durham senior leadership students who work with the NCSSM Foundation, hosted a week of student-led celebrations focused on building awareness of the donors who support NCSSM, expressing gratitude for those contributions, and preparing students to pay it forward as alumni.  

Attaché Leads Kishen Anand ’23, Rachel Dawson ’23, Elaine De Jesus ’23, and Avantika Tati ’23 spearheaded Foundation Week under the mentorship of Alumni Association Board of Directors member Akhil Jariwala ’10.   

Students sipped hot chocolate and cider during Happy Half, made s’mores by Hunt Hall and outside the Residence Hall at NCSSM-Morganton, raced around campus on an NCSSM Foundation-themed scavenger hunt, and put their Foundation and SMath history knowledge to the test during trivia.   

The highlight of Foundation Week was the Student Philanthropy Fair. Students participated in a carnival-style event on Watts Lawn, traveling from booth to booth to learn about the Foundation, the Durham campus renovation plans, how the Foundation supports student activities, and what life is like as an alumnus from the Alumni Board. Students also participated in a publicity booth, showing their love for an NCSSM experience, activity, or program they’re grateful for. After visiting each of these booths, students were invited to play fair-style games, embrace their inner-child in a bouncy house, and enjoy their fill of snacks.   

Altogether, Foundation Week was a roaring success, with the Attachés having more than 500 exchanges with fellow students about student philanthropy and collecting more than 120 demonstrations of gratitude for donors!   

It’s all part of the NCSSM Student Philanthropy Program, a student-run, Foundation-supported initiative that aims to foster a culture of gratitude among NCSSM students one class at a time, inspiring a feeling of shared ownership in the advancement of NCSSM’s mission – with the grand vision of leading a generational transformation of NCSSM’s giving culture, to one that is powered by universal alumni participation.  

In the months leading up to the week, Attachés, Foundation staff, volunteers, and donors worked tirelessly together to achieve these goals. In addition to the leadership of Jariwala and the previously mentioned Attaché Leads, our other Attaché Leads, Tori Bissram ’23 and Ethan Strubbe ’23, created and distributed marketing content. All 17 Attachés supported the process by contributing ideas, time, and energy during planning and execution, with several Attachés serving as Event Leads throughout the week.  

Alexis R. Frady ’12, NCSSM Foundation Business Manager & Durham Attaché Coordinator, provided administrative support and operational guidance, alongside Dan Abbott, Annual Giving Officer. Tim King ’86 and Tim Qi ’14, Alumni Board members, generated excitement in Fair participants as they painted a picture of post-NCSSM life (while handing out stickers and popcorn). Sue Anne Lewis, Service Learning Coordinator, taught Fair participants about all the ways in which the Foundation supports student activities. Local vendors ZenFish and Monuts added to the excitement by donating gift cards that lucky students received. All of this was made possible through the generosity of Sean Fahey ’89.  

Akhil Jariwala ’10 contributed to this story.