2008-2009 Honor Roll Donor Profiles

2008-2009 Honor Roll of Donors: Donor Profiles

The Future of Giving

Graduates of Trinity’s School of Professional Studies and School of Education have much in common with graduates from the historic women’s college, the College of Arts and Sciences. Small classes and a dedicated faculty and staff are what Trinity is all about, and as they talk about their experiences, these alumni share pride in alma mater.

Patricia Wiggins SPS ’08 felt compelled to complete an undergraduate degree that she had begun many years before. Though not a traditional age student, she shared classes during the day with younger students, and admits that she “learned a great deal from these young ladies.”

As a special education teacher in a D.C. charter school, Renee Weitzner EDU ’07 found that the School of Education’s master’s program in reading fit directly into her professional plans. Trinity gave her a “real education” thanks to professors who are also practitioners in the field, and know exactly what students need.

Edward Watkins SPS ’08, on the staff at neighboring Washington Hospital Center, braved rush-hour traffic evenings, trying to complete his undergraduate degree at a larger university. “I knew of Trinity as a women’s school – I was surprised to learn that they accept men. [In SPS] I met other students who were able to sympathize, and everyone was focused. I like that. It was good seeing older students – it pushed me even more. It was a blessing that Trinity came along. It was a great experience – start to finish.”

Renee Kofi-Bruce SPS ’07 decided once her children finished school, it was time for her to get an education. “I would sit in the library at a desk at the front window upstairs, and I would see Kaye Gapen (Trinity’s head librarian) teaching students about research, taking time with them. I remember my professors so well, and I really admire President Pat McGuire.”

In pursuing her MBA, E. Patricia Coleman SPS ’08 appreciated the diversity at Trinity. “I really found it was good to have the different ages of students. In order to be an effective manager, it was good to know what younger people think. I had a lot of fun, met a lot of new people. We encouraged each other, especially when it got tough. Coming to Trinity was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

All of these recent graduates shared that their experiences outside the classroom were equally gratifying. They appreciated the quick responses from administrative offices and the personal attention that they received from faculty and staff alike. Every member of the Trinity community is important to the whole.

Why give to Trinity?

Our newest graduates cite timeless reasons: “You’re supposed to!” “To be sure it happens for others.” “Trinity opened new doors for me. I want to be part of that – opening doors for others.”  “I’m at that age, I want to do philanthropic things.”

Just as Trinity has transitioned from a “traditional” liberal arts college to university with three schools and a culturally diverse student body, so have the donors transitioned from women who cherish education and friendships to a broad range of professionals who feel compelled to “give back” so that others may benefit from their experiences. Through strong and continued support for Trinity – alma mater – our donors make a rich and vibrant testament to both the history and future of this mission. We are grateful for everyone’s participation.

Donna J. Fleming, SPS ’90, MSA ’08

Fleming is a Trinity Sustainer – a donor who gives to the Trinity Annual Fund through regular monthly gifts.

“As a single mother seeking my undergraduate degree, I looked at several schools in the Washington area. Given my busy schedule and juggling my responsibilities at work and with my family, I found a home at Trinity as a student in the Weekend College program. I thought of Trinity as a place that was always welcoming, especially since I shared classes with women who were so much like myself, facing similar challenges. I am a product of Catholic schools, so Trinity’s emphasis on community was also very comforting.

“My decision to become a regular donor comes from many perspectives. For several years I have been an active volunteer with area nonprofits, so I know how difficult fundraising can be. As a former student, I know firsthand that Trinity does a great deal with limited resources. I also hold a deep respect for President McGuire. I admire her leadership in transforming Trinity, and I especially applaud her decision to expand Trinity’s reach throughout the metropolitan community. It’s so very important to support Trinity’s initiatives to provide opportunities for talented, deserving students so that they can become successful and realize their dreams.”

Donna J. Fleming is executive director of College Summit in Washington, DC. For more information on Trinity Sustainers or to become a Trinity Sustainer, please contact Paige Blache, Director of the Annual Fund, at 202-884-9703 or blachep@trinitydc.edu.

The Dunn Family Gift: The Sower’s Seed Lecture Series

Oftentimes when students are asked why Trinity is such a great experience, they cite the classroom dialog, the ability to exchange ideas and explore different viewpoints, and engagement in meaningful discussions about life, faith, politics, and morality. Learning to think critically is what the Trinity experience is all about.

So it is no wonder that the Sower’s Seed lecture series has become a highlight of the academic year. Since the first lecture given in 2005 by social justice advocate Marie Dennis ’64, students and members of the larger Trinity community have shared some remarkable and very moving experiences. They have heard about some of the many ways Trinity women have taken the teachings of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and used them to make a difference in our world. They have also seen presentations by community partners who offer opportunities for involvement and innovation. Students have expressed their views and reactions through photography, writing and the spoken word.

All of these moments had their germination in the mind of Kelly Snider Dunn ’64, who knew that the teachings of the SNDs helped build the foundation for her life. She wanted students today and in the future to hear alumnae who had taken the Sisters’ call to action to heart, and integrated the SNDs’ passion for social justice and community action into their own lives. She knew that these stories would inspire and empower new generations of Trinity women to action.

As Dunn describes her vision, “It is a real blessing in life to encounter people whose words have a profound and lasting impact. Sr. Margaret Claydon SND, president of Trinity College when I was a student, was one of those people for me. She had various opportunities to address the student body and often shared her vision of ‘the Trinity woman.’ I understood that we were women who would use our education in service to the world. Our world in the 1960s might be the domestic world of the family or the wider social and political world but we were called to make a difference, in small or grander ways. Jesus’ parable of the Sower seems so appropriate. Our goal is to help insure that the seeds are still sowed (I’m delighted that President McGuire sounds a lot like Sr. Margaret) and that the student soil is fertile.”

The Sower’s Seed Series has been made possible through the generosity of the Dunn Family Charitable Fund, which established an endowment fund to bring speakers to campus and gather the community together to share discussion and reflection on some of the most important issues of our time. Presenters at the Sower’s Seed lectures have included an author and teacher, a journalist, a founder of a health clinic, and a community activist who has transformed the lives of the homeless. Their stories inform and inspire.
Trinity is grateful to Kelly Dunn and her family for recognizing an opportunity to make a difference for Trinity students. The lectures not only honor the work of our founding order, but also instill in new generations the responsibility to extend a hand and to give back.

The closing from Marie Dennis’s inaugural lecture, given in September 2005, captures the essence of the Sower’s Seed series:

  • Open your heart; say yes; take some risks; cross borders; keep growing;
  • Try to look at reality through the eyes of those who are poor, living on the margins of life, excluded;
  • Make a life’s commitment to something you believe in, something that gives your life meaning;
  • Integrate your values into the work you choose to do and into the way you live;
  • Just take the next right step – you’ll know where to go once you get there;
  • Find community – create or recreate it if you have to; and
  • Remember, always remember, that your life is a work in progress. Let the Spirit of the Living God lead the way.

American Association of University Women: Supporting Scholars

Trinity wishes to recognize the members of the McLean, Virginia, chapter of the Association of University Women (AAUW) for their dedication and commitment to the education of women. This year marks the 17th year that this local group has given a scholarship to benefit a Trinity student.

Members of the McLean branch volunteer hundreds of hours each year to raise scholarship monies through their annual used book sale. This year the branch set a fundraising record as it collected over 40,000 books for their 40th sale which was held in September.

The McLean chapter was recently honored with a national AAUW award recognizing its generous contributions to fellowships and grant drives at the national level. The Association of American University Women also hosts a yearly leadership and training institute for college women, which Trinity students have attended over the past two years through the generosity of the Alumnae Association of Trinity College.

Trinity is grateful to the McLean, Virginia, chapter of the AAUW for their dedication to the education of women and for their particular interest in and support of Trinity students.