When Stephanie Esparza graduated from Santa Teresa High School in May 2013, she wasn’t planning to attend college. She said she doubted her ability to succeed and feared that a college education was too great a challenge for her.
She overcame that fear with the encouragement of her parents and the support of a scholarship from the Hunt Family Foundation, and will earn her associate degree on Thursday from Dona Ana Community College, with plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at New Mexico State University in public health.
“The greatest challenge that I had to overcome was myself – thinking I could not get this far in school,” Esparza said. “I was the first woman in my family to attend college and had to figure out the ropes of college by making mistakes. Receiving the Hunt scholarship has shown me that I can make it through college and be great in school – I think of the Hunt Family Foundation as another set of parents walking behind me, knowing I can finish school strong.”
The El Paso-based Hunt Family Foundation took advantage of a matching opportunity during NMSU’s inaugural Giving Tuesday event, held Dec. 1, 2015, to add another $5,000 gift to the foundation’s existing scholarship fund, which benefits students from Dona Ana County who attend Dona Ana Community College.
Gifts made to scholarships for Giving Tuesday were matched by the Foundation using funds from NMSU’s Alumni License Plate program.
Recipients of the Hunt Family Foundation Scholarship also receive separate matching funds from the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico’s Wynne Scholarship.
“The Giving Tuesday matching opportunity was too good to pass up,” said Josh Hunt, president of the Hunt Family Foundation. “Thanks to these matching dollars, we were able to stretch the impact of our gift from $5,000 to $10,000, and then from $10,000 to $20,000. That’s scholarship funding that benefits students right here in the Borderplex region, which is very important to our organization.”
With every last gift counted and each dollar-for-dollar scholarship match accounted for, the one-day Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign added a total of $5.7 million dollars to scholarship funds across the NMSU system.
Online and in-person gifts from donors during the 24-hour period of Dec. 1 totaled $628,984, and another $834,450 came from members of the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors, which boasted 100 percent participation. Other gifts established in anticipation of Giving Tuesday added nearly $1 million, for a pre-match total of $2,900,143.
“When our team began planning for this Giving Tuesday initiative, I quietly set a goal for us, hoping we’d raise $250,000 in one day,” said Andrea Tawney, vice president for university advancement and president of the NMSU Foundation. “The generosity of our Aggie community blew that goal out of the water, bringing in 10 times that in gifts. This day was utterly transformative for our students.”
More than 80 new scholarships were established, and the initiative drew more than 2,440 donors, including 655 who were making their first-ever gift to the NMSU system.
“We’re really proud of the way our alumni responded to this call to action,” said Leslie Cervantes, associate vice president for alumni engagement and participation. “We received gifts from 293 brand-new alumni donors on Giving Tuesday. Support from our alumni is critical to student success, and this was a great opportunity to connect with our graduates who were looking for a meaningful way to give back.”
NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, who was one of many campus leaders who made gifts of their own during Giving Tuesday, said he was proud to see so much enthusiasm for the cause of boosting scholarship funds for students.
“We had tremendous participation from our caring Aggie community,” he said. “All of our Foundation board and our regents made contributions, and we saw gifts roll in from all over – from business leaders across the globe and from our own students right here on campus. We’re building a culture of philanthropy here that’s really special.”
The NMSU Foundation plans to build on the success of Giving Tuesday with its second-annual event this fall. For more information about Giving Tuesday, the NMSU Foundation or the Office of University Advancement, visit advancing.nmsu.edu
Author: Amanda Bradford – NMSU