The 7th annual student-led Dinner at Davidson event will take place Friday, Feb. 5, on Davidson's campus. This fundraising and awareness effort aims to showcase the impact of scholarships, particularly through The Davidson Trust, which supports the college's longstanding commitment to need-blind admission and makes it possible for talented students from all backgrounds to come to Davidson, irrespective of their financial circumstances.
This year's event is led by Aditi Ghatlia '18 from Shanghai, China, chair, Hailey Klabo '16 from West Branch, Iowa, vice chair, and Jacob Cole '16, from Ormond Beach, Florida, who oversees alumni outreach.
Klabo speaks personally about what The Davidson Trust has meant for her time at Davidson as well as for her next steps.
"I have a lot more freedom in my post-graduate plans because I don't have student loans from my undergraduate years," she said. "It's a huge load off my parents, and it allows me to think about things like writing a book before I go to law school. There's no way I could consider that if I had to start thinking about repaying loans."
Cole is grateful, too, for the ways in which the trust has shaped his time on campus.
"Because of support from the trust, I was able to choose a major that I wanted, rather than the one that would allow me to earn a large salary to pay back loans," he said. "Even more importantly, it's impossible to overstate what this scholarship program adds to the classroom. Because we have students from varied backgrounds, the conversations in class include many different perspectives. Those perspectives broaden our discussions and makes us think in new ways."
Cole's experience–one many on campus can relate to–is one reason the student team selected Foundations for the Future as this year's theme for Dinner at Davidson. Before the dinner, students will be presenting short speeches about ways the trust has made an impact on their college journeys. Some of the student presenters will be direct beneficiaries of money from the trust, and others will talk about how they benefit because of what the trust means for Davidson–experiences in and out of the classroom, friendships, extra-curricular activities and more.
These personal stories, and the students who share them, are the college's foundations for the future.
"It's really important that we put faces to The Davidson Trust," said Cole. "And the point we want people to take away is that every person on campus is affected by it in some positive, lasting way."
"The diversity the trust brings to campus permeates the culture through many experiences that are unspoken," said Klabo. "The people we're around each day shape who we are, whether we realize it or not."
Also during the event, attendees will be able to place bids as part of a silent auction to raise additional funds for scholarships. Auction items run the gamut, from access to athletics events and vacation home stays to art and restaurant gift cards.
Following the event, for the first time, an "after celebration" at the campus location of Summit Coffee will allow Dinner at Davidson attendees to continue conversations in a casual setting.
"I'm most proud of the campus community for being so involved," said Ghatlia. "I knew our team was invested, but I didn't expect such a high level of enthusiasm from students, faculty members and staff. People are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to support one another. That's a very special thing about Davidson."
Registration will remain open until Feb. 1. Please register online (choose the Dinner at Davidson event).
Dinner at Davidson began in 2010 with a small group of students in the Student Government Association's external affairs committee. Led by Jordan Starck '12, now a teacher in Charlotte, the small community outreach fundraiser explained the impact of The Davidson Trust to the larger Davidson community and raised around $3,000 to support the trust. The following year, the students raised more than $22,000, which more than doubled in 2012 when the addition of an online auction helped to raise $50,000. In 2013, a production written and performed by students, Trust: The Play, helped raise more than $40,000. Last year, Dinner at Davidson raised $36,500 and featured a gallery of student work showing the diverse interests and talents that The Trust helps facilitate.
The success of Dinner at Davidson has enabled students to create an expendable scholarship–the Student Government Association Davidson Trust Scholarship–which helps bring talented students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to the campus community. In August 2011, the college welcomed its first recipient of the scholarship, a member of the Class of 2015. Last year marked a milestone for Dinner at Davidson as the college celebrated the first scholar's graduation.