The NIRSA family is an inspiring community of members who do everything they can to create opportunities for one another and ensure a thriving future for campus recreation.

The NIRSA Student Leadership Team embodies this forward-thinking generosity. Through its hard work and fundraising at NIRSA 2018, the 2017-2018 SLT secured enough donations from NIRSA students to provide three NIRSA Foundation scholarships “For Students, By Students” to the 2019 NIRSA Annual Conference & Campus Rec and Wellness Expo.

From pennies to possibilities

Leading the fundraising efforts in Denver were Abby Blumberg, 2017-2018 Region IV Student Leader, and Spencer Cavan, 2017-2018 Canadian Region Student Leader.

“We are here as a network and a family to help each other,” Spencer says. “We wanted to empower the students at the Annual Conference and future NIRSA students to show them the social impact that they can make.”

They created a friendly competition between regions: each regional student leader carried a jar to collect cash donations large and small without tying a name to the dollar amount.

“From students dropping pennies in the jar to those able to throw in larger bills, we did it together to create these scholarships,” Abby says. “By demystifying the idea of a donation and not associating a name with your giving amount, we wanted students past and present to know that truly any amount counts.”

Students could also support these scholarships by making donations to the NIRSA Foundation Scholarship Fund at the NIRSA Foundation Table; these donations were tied to the students’ names and count toward their cumulative giving. By the end of the Annual Conference, Region I collected the most donations, and the students overall raised $1,696 to cover registration fees for three of their peers to head to Boston.

“To see their commitment to students come to fruition is something that we will build on this year and hope continues in the years to come,” says NIRSA Student Leader Caroline Ciell. “I feel proud to be part of an Association that keeps students at the center by providing opportunities like scholarships that align directly with the SLT’s mission of student development.”

“We are the future of NIRSA”

The SLT aims to create opportunities for members to thrive as students and beyond.

“We are the future of NIRSA!” Caroline says. “Supporting each other is how we grow together.”

While the student fundraising plans for NIRSA 2019 are still in the works, DeVanee Lasley, Region V Student Leader, says the SLT hopes to raise funds to sent at least seven students to NIRSA 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona. DeVanee and Canadian Student Leader Zack Sephton are spearheading student fundraising efforts this year.

“Having the chance to work with the NIRSA Foundation to raise funds for our NIRSA students is a reward in itself,” DeVanee says. “I think it is important for students to support each other because we are all going through similar experiences within this field.”

As the NIRSA Foundation strives to create a culture of philanthropy across the Association, “we are fortunate to have students who are already engaging in that culture,” says Lexi Chaput, member of the NIRSA Foundation Board of Directors and Board Liaison to the NIRSA Foundation Scholarship Committee. She emphasizes that their participation benefits not just the Association but also their personal professional development.

“We see this as a really great opportunity for members of the SLT to get an enhanced experience with philanthropy,” Lexi says. “Engagement with alumni and focus on fundraising through donations is something that we are seeing more and more in higher education and the ability to tell the story about the impact you are making on your participants is something that can serve our profession as well as individual departments who commit to it.”

To Lexi, student participation in philanthropy is critical to the long-term sustainability of the NIRSA Foundation and the members it serves. Abby echoes that sentiment, noting that the “idea of ‘For Students, By Students’ does not stop once you become a professional.”

“We are a network, community, and family. I look forward to supporting my peers in whatever way I can in the future,” she continues. “I hope to continue to create opportunities and platforms for both professionals and students to learn, grow, and share with one another.”

Apply for scholarships today!

The NIRSA Foundation offers a variety of student scholarships covering registration fees to NIRSA 2019, and 30 scholarships are also available to the J. Michael Dunn Student Professional Development Preconference Workshop.

Applicants fill out a common application that puts them in the running for all scholarships for which they are eligible. Students must also submit a résumé and a statement of support signed by the director of their recreation department. Current NIRSA membership is required for scholarship consideration. The deadline to apply for NIRSA Foundation scholarships is Monday, October 22.

Student scholarships will also be available to the 2019 Region II Conference through the Region II Excellence Endowment. Look for more information about these new scholarships in late summer 2019.


NIRSA Expo & Corporate Relations Coordinator at | NIRSA Profile

Kelley Hungerford is currently the NIRSA Expo and Corporate Relations Coordinator at NIRSA.