Marina Mitchell, chair of Annual Giving for the Graduate School, came to Princeton from the Republic of Georgia to pursue a master’s degree at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “I am from a country where family and friends are extremely important,” she says. “You live among a close group of people who really care about one another. When I came here from Georgia, that is what Princeton gave me. That, and a superb education. Now I’m trying to give back to Princeton.”
Evan Fieldston says he volunteers for Annual Giving because he values Princeton’s culture of giving back, in which alumni support makes the undergraduate experience possible for new generations. “Being a part of that tradition means a lot to me,” he says.
John Rustum was the first person in his family to attend college, thanks, he says, to the hard work of his parents and the financial assistance Princeton provided. He feels “a special debt of gratitude to the Princetonians who came before me, whose generosity to the University made my education possible.” As a longtime Annual Giving volunteer, special gifts co-chair, and now co-class agent, he aims “to do for future students what other alumni did for me.”
John Proctor remembers, “as if it were yesterday,” listening to the late Robert F. Goheen ’40 *48, then University President, at the Class of 1964’s freshman orientation gathering. Goheen “spoke with considerable emotion about Princeton’s culture of ‘giving back,’ which to me meant that I had a duty to the University and a duty to society.” Proctor says he treasures the education he received at Princeton, and “will always be grateful to the University and will do what I can to help maintain its excellence.”
It is not unusual for co-class agents to confer, discuss their Annual Giving goals, and plan strategy. Cameron Barrett and Rahsaan Harris, however, have raised the bar for a class agency cooperative enterprise and just plain togetherness: they were tent mates on a recent mountaineering expedition to the 19,341-foot peak of Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Andy Cowherd embarked on his first volunteer assignment for Princeton in 1970: he was elected president of the freshman class, later known as the Great Class of 1974. He was returned to the presidency in 1999 and has held that office ever since. While he has taken brief vacations from class officership, he has never taken a vacation from service to the University.
Catarina Schwab “loved every minute of my time at Princeton. No matter what the University might ask of me, the answer would be ‘Yes!’” A member of the Annual Giving Committee, and former special gifts solicitor for her class, she is ’96’s reunion chair. “Annual Giving is what allows Princeton to be Princeton, and to remain a top institution,” she says.
Colleen Shanahan remembers the excitement of Princeton’s 250th Anniversary in 1996, which featured an address by Toni Morrison, Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities Emerita. “Princeton is, as Professor Morrison said, ‘a place of private memory’ and ‘a place of collective public memory—which is to say history—which has helped shape the nation’s life.’”
Steffen and Susan Parratt have been members of the Parents Committee since their daughter Kirsten ’13 was a freshman. “Like all Princeton parents,” says Steffen, “education is very important to us. We believe in supporting our children’s schools, as best we can, in any way we can.”