Over 100 Elon University seniors filled Rhodes stadium on May 19 in one of the first opportunities the class of 2021 had to gather in person. From playing cornhole to dancing under the fireworks, the Senior Celebration marked the last initiative of Elon’s Senior Class Giving Committee and the final event before undergraduate commencement on May 21.

Each year the committee, made up of members of the senior class, works to educate their peers about the value of “paying it forward” to the Elon community, according to Caroline Blanchard ’17, coordinator of Affinity and Student Programs. 

This year, Blanchard said the committee set a goal for 50% of the class of 2021 to make a private donation to the university. As of May 19, 616 donors have made donations totalling $50,040. Donations from the class of 2021 will be accepted until May 31.

“The dollar amount is never really our biggest goal,” Blanchard said. “It’s really about participation and getting students and seniors exposed to the idea of philanthropy, and giving back to the university before they become alumni.”

Students can make donations to over 600 different funds depending on the area of campus they care most about. Funds include Elon’s six academic schools, athletics and student life programs. The senior class this year donated to 80 different funds.

For committee co-chair Ryan Vu, making a private donation to Elon is a direct way to invest in the future of the university. According to Vu, tuition covers only a portion of what students consider the “Elon experience.” The other part comes from donations and helps fund things like on campus entertainment, new buildings and other events for Elon students.

“We have a responsibility as upcoming alumni to give back to the university and reinvest our money back into our degrees,” Vu said.

Vu said he hopes that as the university expands in following years, those who make donations can feel pride in the success of the community. 

“Being able to say, ‘I went to Elon, and it’s because of the money that I gave that Elon expanded and became more well known,’” Vu said. “Just making opportunities for other students possible.”