The Campaign for Haas

Paying it Forward

Haas undergrads break fundraising record

Haas undergrads

Jimmy Le, BS 16; Sam Choi, BS 15; Dean Rich Lyons, BS 82; Subha Rengarajan, BS 15; Cassarie Soungpanya, BS 16; Mansha Seth, BS 16; Stacey Patten, BS 15; Hayden Polhamus, BS 16.
Not pictured: Dan Phan, BS 16, and Antonia Acquistapace, BS 15.

When it comes to giving back, Haas undergraduates get it. The student benefits they enjoy aren’t magically provided but are sustained by consistent student and alumni support. And that’s why this year’s Student Gift Campaign (SGC) was so successful, breaking a record for the total amount raised by undergraduates.

“I got involved in the campaign because I’ve been personally impacted by school services like career conferences, mock interviews, designated career counselors, and free printing,” says senior Subha Rengarajan, president of this year’s campaign. “I wanted to help make other students aware that these advantages are supported by student and alumni generosity.”

This year, for the first time, both juniors and seniors were invited to contribute to the campaign, which Rengarajan’s team kicked off in March. The team staffed tables in the courtyard at least once a week, serving up coffee and donuts along with campaign information. They even created a video inviting fellow students to donate.

The effort paid off: 254 Haas undergrads raised $13,586. And a group of nine undergrad alumni matched student donations three-to-one as part of the Beyond Yourself Challenge match, bringing the total to $43,086.

“The fact that this campaign broke the $13,000 mark is huge,” says Alessandra Demmons, associate director of undergraduate student and alumni engagement. “The students worked extremely hard to reach out to the entire student body.” Indeed, donations over last year were up about 17 percent. Of the 254 donors, 65 percent were seniors and in this, their first year of contributing to the campaign, juniors comprised 35 percent of donors.

The SGC helps Haas take its rightful place among other powerful institutions, says junior Hayden Polhamus, who served as the campaign’s vice president of logistics. “Schools like Harvard or Yale have been around hundreds of years, and they’ve got a well-established spirit of giving,” he says. “But because Cal is a state institution, it hasn’t had a similar ethos until recently. When I heard about the student campaign I realized I wanted to help create that culture.”

It’s all about paying it forward, says Lucky Sandhu, BS 96, EMBA 15. For him, joining the Beyond Yourself Challenge match was a no-brainer. “The school gave me an identity and strong academic and professional platforms from which I could excel,” he says. “So when I look at the undergraduates, I see myself—and I want to do what I can to support them so they can in turn become leaders.”

It’s important for Haas undergraduates to understand that Haas students support their school, says Brad Howard, BS 79, another member of the group of matching alumni, which also included Tim Carlson, BS 63; Haas Lecturer Steve Etter, BS 83, MBA 89; Tara Kramlich, BS 03; Petra Loer, BS 01; Dean Rich Lyons, BS 82; Kathryn O’Connor, BS 98; and Kinman Tong, BS 03. “Supporting the Student Gift Campaign allows me to pass on what I’ve received from the school and to model the expectation that Haas students give—not only of money, but also of resources and time,” Howard says. “It’s just how we roll.” —Kate Madden Yee

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