Skip to Main Content

Class of 2016 Hits a Double Home Run

Fall 2016 | By Rodjinaé Brown (SF16) for The College

The Islamic Classics collection in the Meem Library at St. John's in Santa Fe is the result of a senior gift.
The Islamic Classics collection in the Meem Library at St. John’s in Santa Fe is the result of a senior gift.

On the evening of April 29, the Great Hall of the Santa Fe campus was illuminated with colorful strobe lights that bounced off the walls in reds and blues.

Above the podium, where a lecturer stood less than an hour before, letters spelled out the word “prom.” An hour later, members of every class filled the room with laughter, dancing, and conversation.

This event was not so much a student party, but rather a vehicle to promote interest in the Class of 2016’s Senior Legacy.

On both St. John’s College campuses, seniors come together to decide what they will “gift” the college. The gift varies every year from the tangible to the intangible, be it new benches for the quad or a special donation to increase financial aid.

In Santa Fe, this year’s legacy finds its home in Meem Library as the Islamic Classics collection.

“The Senior Legacy Program is important because it empowers seniors to define their lasting impact and identity as permanent members of the college community,” explains Sarah Palacios, the Alumni Coordinator for the Santa Fe campus.

To facilitate this tradition, each campus forms a Senior Legacy Committee (SLC), whose senior class members are committed to lead the fundraising effort. The SLC’s work is not limited to simply collecting. Its students are the most knowledgeable regarding what the gifts are; they are expected to motivate their classmates to give.

Motivation often manifests itself in gatherings, such as the post-seminar events in Annapolis or the “Senior Prom” in Santa Fe. Beyond these efforts, the most effective motivational method employed by the students is face-to-face conversation.

Some seniors aren’t willing to give. Others aren’t fully aware of the merit of giving. It helps to have discussions with classmates who have the patience, enthusiasm, and insight to inspire their peers to contribute to the class’s legacy.

“We’re proud that we can give back to the college in a tangible way and improve the quality of life for future Johnnies,” says Max Dakin (A16), a member of the committee on the Annapolis campus.

Along with classmates David Conway (A16), Emily Grazier (A16), Sueanna Keim (A16), and Brian Liu (A16), he led their class to 100 percent participation, raising $6,924.

Annapolis committee members set up a donation table outside the Dining Hall at least once a week, where they engaged with classmates and other students about the class gift. Occasionally, committee members must take initiative to seek out members of their class to encourage them to participate. The funds they raised aided projects that create greater opportunities for students.

In total, the Annapolis gift made a threefold impact: donating to the Pathways Fellowship program, expanding the Music Assistance program to provide piano lessons for students, and installing 1Card readers on the back doors of Pinkney Hall.

On the Santa Fe campus, seniors William Palm (SF16), Colleen Mahoney (SF16), Meg Covington (SF16), and Rodjinaé Brown (SF16) led their class to a record of 99 percent participation with $4,821 raised by students, before finishing off with 100 percent participation and a total of $5,817.45, including matching gifts.

Although Meem Library is still in the process of adding to the collection, the library will complete it, according to Santa Fe tutor Michael Wolfe.

“Being asked to work on the committee was an honor,” says William Palm (SF16). “It was a really beautiful and concrete way to close the chapter of my time at St. John’s. And for both campuses to make it to 100 percent [participation] was the icing on the cake.”

Although it is not the first time that a senior class has reached full participation on either campus, it is remarkable that both campuses achieved 100 percent participation. When student participation reaches such a high percentage, it typically inspires matching gifts from faculty, staff, and other alumni.

This year’s 100 percent participation garnered much enthusiasm from non-student members of the community. Many hope that the remarkable accomplishment of the Class of 2016 will set a precedent for future graduating classes of the college.