Philanthropy in the eyes of a (very) young ANU alumna

17 November 2014

"I moved to Canberra from Darwin when I was 17, and haven't looked back (except every June-August when I have to deal with temperatures below 10°). To be honest, it was the beautiful willows on campus that drew me in, as they were so different from the palm trees I was used to back home.

Last year I graduated from Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Science and proudly joined the ANU alumni community. But my journey with ANU isn't over yet – I am now doing my PhD in engineering. After a thorough interview process and training for the ANU Telephone Appeal, the bell rang and off we went, calling our domestic alumni, all our voices a bit shaky with nerves! My first three shifts were challenging, I had some really good conversations but no gifts to The ANU Fund – and I completely understand why. We are yet to develop a culture where every graduate appreciates the need to give back to the ANU community, but I think that is about to change.

In 2013 I attended the Tuckwell Scholarship launch and I was simply inspired. That level of philanthropy was mind-blowing, and I thought "That is something that I want to be around in 17 years when my nephew starts looking at unis (ANU)!" These opportunities, and more, will exist in the future as a result of the generosity of ANU alumni and, now, because of something called The ANU Fund. The past ANU undergrad in me, as well as the PhD candidate I am now, are both equally as passionate about what The ANU Fund will do – it will provide scholarships to students in need, as well as support research and discovery the University. In my final year studying full time, I also worked at three casual jobs, and I can't say that is something I would like to do again! Relieving the financial burden of students throughout their undergraduate degree would pay off (excuse the pun) in spades – students can focus on their studies and be involved with the ANU community, ensuring graduates will want to stay engaged with ANU long after they receive that important piece of paper in Llewellyn hall. The ANU Fund also supports research and discovery, something for which the PhD candidate in me jumps for joy. I am starting to learn the difficulties of securing funding, and the uncertainty of how to fund my (very expensive) research is not a great feeling.

This is what I tell the alumni I call, and they are all very understanding. The VC visited our calling room last night with the Endowment Board of Governors (and I am sure he will be pleased to hear) – he was my lucky charm! I received my first generous gift (of a total four throughout the night) to this initiative. I was ecstatic because someone had understood, appreciated, and matched my passion about The ANU Fund. And that's what it's all about.

All in all, I think The ANU Fund is a fabulous opportunity for ANU alumni to support current and future students' studies and research. The Telephone Appeal offers what I think is another invaluable opportunity – a chance for our alumni to reconnect with the distinguished university with the beautiful willows."

(Francesca Maclean ANU Student Caller, 14 November 2014)

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