Everyone loves a present.
Wrapped in pretty paper and topped with a bow, or served up on a silver platter, a gift is something special. No matter the size or the worth, it is something that says someone values you.
Nothing bad about that.
But regardless of what your mother told you about that itchy sweater your aunt sent when you were a kid, some presents really are better than others and everyone knows it.
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On Wednesday, the first graduation present of the school year was announced. It wasn’t a car from from someone’s dad or a nice string of pearls from your grandmother who pledged the same sorority. It was a lot bigger than that.
The Penn State Class of 2016’s gift won’t be one that people can pose with in caps and gowns. It won’t be a room in a building or a chair in a department.
The class is giving a gift that ideally will go far beyond the family of Penn State or the tradition of the university or the marketability of a degree.
This year’s graduating seniors are investing in the mental health of the classes to come through an endowment supporting Counseling and Psychological Services.
“With this gift, the Class of 2016 is able to provide a permanent, annual source of funding for CAPS,” said senior Ramon Guzman Jr., executive director for the 2016 class gift campaign in a release. “The selection of a non-physical gift by the Class of 2016 is not only reminiscent of some of the early class gifts, this gift will also ensure that future students take part in a better Penn State, because of the generosity and thoughtfulness of our class.”
The university has had other gifts that defined the school in big ways, like the iconic Nittany Lion shrine originally gifted by the Class of 1940 and recently updated and upgraded by the Class of 2012, or in smaller ones like the classes who donated books or scholarships. The Class of 2015 put their emphasis on sustainability with the gift of a solar array.
According to class gift adviser Geoff Hallett, the unique thing about the newest gift is that its scope, unlike a monument, is not set in stone.
The amount of money raised by the class can grow, and with it, so can the amount of money that the endowment provides every year, forever, to help students who seek help from CAPS that might make all of the difference in their education and their lives.
Because sometimes, your mom was right. It really is the thought that counts.