On behalf of the Ken Fuirst 86′ Giving Challenge and the Lehigh Fund, Julie Frehafer ’11 sat down with us for a Q&A to discuss her Lehigh memories, reasons for philanthropy, and the importance of getting young alumni to join the 550.
The Goblet: What would you say is your favorite memory during your time at Lehigh?
JF: Obviously all of the Lehigh-Lafayette games. I liked the home games a lot better because we get to be on our campus. And then, one of my most favorite — which wasn’t on campus — but, my capstone group for IBE (Integrated Business and Engineering) got to go to Las Vegas for a conference that was relating to our project. That was a great memory, going with my Lehigh group out there for a conference. I guess that would be two of my favorite.
The Goblet: Do you have any favorite Lehigh memories since you’ve been out of school?
JF: Oh, definitely! Being on the Young Alumni Council (YAC), I’m lucky to go back to campus a few times a year — gives me a good excuse to go back. In the past, the Young Alumni Council has been involved with the First-Year Rally in August. So, that’s always awesome. Going and welcoming the new class. Going to the rally, which is full of energy. Listening to all the speakers. I guess it is kind of like transcending generations.
The Goblet: Did you have a favorite order at The Goose?
JF: [laughs] Not that I can remember. I’m sure I did, but I just haven’t been there in so long.
The Goblet: I figured I’d ask, but it might be a good thing.
JF: Yeah. It’s probably good for my health, but I do miss The Goose a lot.
The Goblet: So, what was your first gift to Lehigh towards?
JF: I usually give for the scholarship designation. I think I’ve almost always given towards that because I was lucky enough to receive scholarships when I was at Lehigh. So, I want to pass that along.
The Goblet: Are there any initiative or specific campaigns that you took part in?
JF: I always gave for the Lehigh-Lafayette Challenge. One of the other good things about being on YAC and going back [to Lehigh] three or four times a year is that it serves as a schedule for me to give. I’m back on campus, being involved, seeing the students again — it just reminds me and keeps me on a schedule.
The Goblet: When was your first gift?
JF: Probably freshman year for the Lehigh-Lafayette challenge.
The Goblet: In regards to your general philanthropy, why do you give back?
JF: My journey at Lehigh wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of others. I was lucky enough to receive a few different scholarships while I was there. One of them was an endowed scholarship from Brad Scheler and his wife, who is now the president of the Board of Trustees. I just want to make that possible for future students. I don’t want family income to decide whether or not you can attend Lehigh. So, even if it is a small gift, I’d like to think that if a lot of people gave a small gift, it would make a big difference for one student or a few students. That’s the main reason I do it. All the different things that happen on campus wouldn’t really be possible without gifts.
The Goblet: What would you tell someone — whether in that young alumni age range or any alum in general — who hasn’t made a gift to Lehigh yet?
JF: I would just ask them to think about their experience at Lehigh and all the good memories they had. Kind of what it did for them. Not just in terms of their professional life, but also in terms of their personal life. Obviously, Lehigh has a very good job placement for their graduates. That’s just one thing, and it’s obviously very beneficial. Besides from that, everyone — at least that I know — was at least involved with one extra-curricular activity on campus and just made a ton of friend and a ton of memories while they were there, and I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to try to help another student experience that or keep some of those things going that were there when you were a student.
The Goblet: What are your overall thoughts about Ken Fuirst and the Lehigh Fund making a push to get young alumni involved with giving?
JF: I think it points out a couple of things that are going on. One of the not-so-good things is compared to our peers, if you look at the statistics, young alumni giving at Lehigh is not that great. Other schools of Lehigh’s caliber, their young alumni have a much larger giving rate, and that’s not even talking about gifts — it’s talking about the number of people giving. So, I think the challenge kind of draws attention to that a little bit, which it should. The second and the good thing is that it just shows how passionate our alumni are. Just that Ken Fuirst decided to do this shows that it is definitely something worth thinking about. Any small amount can make a really big difference if a lot of people do it. It’s a good thing that’s trying to solve a not-so-great issue.