In 2010, students in the Student Government Association’s External Affairs Committee spearheaded an effort to celebrate the Davidson Trust and its positive effects on the Davidson community. Lead by Jordan Starck ’12, Dinner at Davidson was created to raise awareness about the Trust and invite alums to contribute to its growth. Since its inauguration, Dinner at Davidson has received up to $50,000 in funds. Six years later, Dinner at Davidson continues to attract alums and the wider Davidson community in order to showcase the various benefits granted by the Student Government Association Davidson Trust Scholarship.
The Lilly Gallery will host the seventh annual Dinner at Davidson Friday, February 5. Led by Aditi Ghatlia ’18, Hailey Klabo ’16, and Jacob Cole ’16, Dinner at Davidson hopes to reach its goal of 700 young alumni donors. Leading up to the event, the planning committee has cohosted a basketball game as well as an acapella performance at Summit Outpost – 10 percent of the proceeds that night went toward Dinner at Davidson. This year’s event will showcase the work of fifteen students along with short presentations, followed by an after-party at Summit Outpost.
The Dinner’s principal objective for this year is to recruit young alums that can attest to the importance of the Trust in fostering diversity in the Davidson community. “Our mission this year is celebrate the trust and understand what it means for the entire student body,” Caitlin James ’14, both Davidson alum and staff adviser for Dinner at Davidson, commented. Last year marked the graduation of the Trust’s first scholarship recipient. This event reflects on the organization’s efforts to gain visibility amongst recent graduates and encourage their contribution. “In the past, the Dinner focused on alumni getting to know and understanding the Trust. This year we’re trying to reach out to people who have familiarity with it.”
In increasing their presence on and off campus, Dinner at Davidson hopes to stress the importance of the Trust in the College’s unique need-based scholarship program. “Davidson has the advantage of having need-blind admissions […], having work study and grants be part of the financial aid package without including loans, and meeting 100% of demonstrated financial aid,” James explained.
Nonetheless, Dinner at Davidson’s ultimate mission is to communicate the importance of the Davidson Trust to the entire College community. Ghatlia, chair of Dinner at Davidson, stresses that the Trust enriches the Davidson experience by giving students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds a voice in the classroom. “Even if you’re not directly getting money from the Trust, you’re still benefitting because you meet people who have come to Davidson as a result of the Trust and learn from them, enriching the classroom experience, and your individual experience at Davidson.”
James also believes that the Trust’s long-term impact can ultimately reshape the way current students and alums view the student body. “I learned just as much from my peers as I did from my professor,” James commented. “It is important for people of all different backgrounds to participate in this conversation because the Trust has allowed people to have access to this education and makes the community richer and a better place to learn because of it.”
This year, Dinner at Davidson primarily reached out to young alums that are situated close to Davidson. The event provides alumni with the opportunity to return to campus, speak to current students, and participate in discussions regarding what the Trust means to them. Both Ghatlia and James hope that Dinner at Davidson will facilitate the arrival of bright and high-achieving students to the Davidson campus. To James, Dinner at Davidson is a student-led initiative that deserves national recognition. In approaching a younger community, Ghatlia has expanded the organization’s visibility on social media platforms and encouraged the participation of recent graduates.
Dinner at Davidson hopes to lay down the foundations and contribute to the increasing diversity of the College. Through the scholarship, Dinner at Davidson is an organization that helps accommodate a growing demand for accessible college education. In making Davidson’s academic and financial resources available to a wider community, the College will continue to benefit from the presence of a vibrant and eclectic student body.