Volume 4 | Issue 1
Spring 2012

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To learn more about the Senior Gift Campaign, contact Bianca Bell, director of Student Giving Programs, at bianca_bell@unc.edu or call 919-962-2012

Visit the Carolina Annual Fund

Senior Courtney Lee helps lead Class of 2012 campaign

By Elizabeth Byrum ’13


Courtney Lee ’12 in The Pit during a Senior Campaign awareness event

Dan Sears
For every Carolina student, the opportunities a UNC education offers are virtually limitless. Whether immersing oneself in other cultures abroad, securing an important summer internship or finding a cause to be passionate about, Tar Heels thrive because of diverse experiences.

But such academic, athletic and extracurricular activities would not be as rich and diverse without the private giving of alumni and students alike.

Courtney Lee ’12 knows this all too well, and credits private giving for helping make possible some of the wonderful experiences she’s had over the past four years. As an intern with the Carolina Annual Fund, Lee has seen the significant impact private funding has made in her life as a student as well as the lives of others.

“It's been really interesting as a student to see the importance of private giving, and that's something a lot of students don't realize or understand until after they've left,” Lee said. “It’s allowed me to better appreciate the opportunities that UNC is giving me and to encourage students to develop that habit of giving while they are here.”

For Lee, a business administration and Spanish major from Winston-Salem, N.C., working with the Annual Fund has shown her how private funding ultimately helps to fill the gaps that state funding, endowment income and tuition do not cover. From student, faculty and program support to enhancing the campus environment and keeping the facilities functioning smoothly, private giving touches every facet of campus life.

She’s also realistic. “We understand that a lot of students are putting themselves through school, or don't generally have expendable income to make large gifts and we don't expect that,” Lee said. “But those $5, $10 and $20 gifts go a long way, not only for financial reasons, but also because it puts you in that habit of giving.”

As a first-year student, Lee began working with the Annual Fund’s phonathon and has been involved in numerous capacities, from sending mailings to organizing the Chancellor's Clubs membership lists. She is a member of Heelraisers, a student organization committed to private giving, and this year, she served as Senior Campaign Marshal and focused specifically on encouraging the Class of 2012 to make a gift. Through activities such as senior night at the Ackland Art Museum, Tag Day or Tuition Free Day, Lee works to integrate the Senior Campaign initiatives with other senior-related organizations to help inform students about what it really takes to run a University and encourage them to be involved.

“Whether it’s one dollar or $500, we are tremendously appreciative.”

» Courtney Lee

“The Senior Campaign tries to be visible at all of those because we are pulling in seniors, but we also work with the General Alumni Association for commencement information day, 100 Days to Graduation and the Bell Tower climb, which are the three biggest events that pull in seniors,” Lee said. “The goal of these events is to get senior gifts but, more importantly, to pull the senior class together.”

A key message Lee and the Senior Campaign are working to convey about private giving is that gifts of any amount can be made to any department, organization or facility on campus. The effort aims to demonstrate the flexibility available in giving and to encourage all students, seniors in particular, to make a gift to an area that has impacted their Carolina careers.

“The Senior Class Gift is not a bench, a fountain, a tree or anything like that. It's a gift you make to your department, your school or your student group to help them thrive as they helped you,” she said. “There are more than 7,000 areas to support.”

For Lee specifically, the impact private giving can have became crystal clear after she completed an internship with the Marwood Group in New York City. There, UNC alumni introduced students to the health-care business and introduced them to all facets of running a company—an experience funded solely by private donors. Lee reaches out to her peers to help them find ways to give back before they graduate, but recognizes that students and alumni differ widely when it comes to philanthropy.

“We recognize you are students, that your financial situation is unique and we respect that,” she said. “We don't ever want students to commit something they are not comfortable with. What we do aim for is to make students aware of the role private giving plays in their college life every day and to be involved and participate. Whether it’s one dollar or $500, we are tremendously appreciative.”

Lee graduates on May 13 and will begin the next chapter of her life. But while she has a class trip to San Francisco with her honors seminar, a summer of backpacking in Europe with her close friends and a position with Bank of America in Charlotte, N.C., to look forward to, her extensive work with the Annual Fund has made an indelible mark on her four years at Carolina and has tied her to the university she loves for years to come.

“The Annual Fund has been a huge part of my time here at Carolina, not just because it's been a job that has given me some spending money on the weekends, but because it has given me access to some incredible alums who love this place and love to give back.”