RAISED RIGHT

Seniors, family and friends raise glasses to toast the Class of 2012

By TERESA KILLIAN TATE  

Emotions ran high at the inaugural student toast hosted for members of the Class of 2012 who contributed at least $20.12 as a senior class gift. For Brandon Martinez ’12, a senior from Morrisville preparing to work in law enforcement in Chapel Hill, there was excitement. “It hasn’t hit me yet,” said Martinez. For Regina Cline ’12, a senior from Gold Hill preparing to enter graduate school at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, there was a bittersweet feeling. “I’m glad to start a new chapter in my life, but this is a chapter I am going to miss dearly,” said Cline.

Meanwhile students’ friends and family members along with WCU faculty and staff expressed pride and gratitude. They joined Chancellor David O. Belcher in raising their glasses of nonalcoholic beverages in a toast to the past, present and future accomplishments of the philanthropic members of the Class of 2012. “Here’s to your future! Best wishes for lifelong success and happiness!” said Belcher.

The senior toast grew out of support for the idea from a senior gift campaign and a newly formed student philanthropy committee, and was made possible through the partnership of WCU’s Parent and Family Association and Office of Development. Seniors who gave at least $20.12 were invited to the event, along with their family and friends, and took home a commemorative 2012 glass.

For the Parent and Family Association, the event offered yet another way to help parents connect with WCU and their students’ experience. Martinez’s mother, Ana Martinez, who participated in the toast, said they had enjoyed being part of Family Association activities over the years, meeting other parents and receiving university news and information. “We felt we were part of the school, even though it was my son who was the student,” said Ana Martinez.

For the Office of Development, the event provided an opportunity to connect with soon-to-be WCU alumni and help them support the areas at WCU near and dear to their hearts. Participating students directed their Class of 2012 gifts to the areas that meant the most to them, such as the Loyalty Fund, which provides merit-based scholarships, the College of Education and Allied Professions and the College of Health and Human Sciences.

“More and more students are recognizing that the experiences at WCU would not be possible without the private support of alumni and friends, and this is a legacy they want to continue so that future Catamounts can have the same opportunities they did,” said Natalie Clark, director of annual giving at WCU.

Cline said she directed her gift to the Bob Buckner ’67 Endowment Fund, which honors the retired director of WCU’s Pride of the Mountains Marching Band. “I marched all four years, and I wanted to give back,” she said. “I want other people to be able to participate in the experience of a lifetime. I want wonderful musicians to have the opportunity to travel and spread the joy of music through the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band.”