The Technique - Georgia Tech's Student Newspaper | October 30, 2009
Albert Einstein is considered by many to be one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. Yet this preeminent physicist whose research had a profound impact on things ranging from relativity to quantum theory, once said, “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out.” This can be summarized in a single word – giving, giving of your time, your energy, your talents, and your resources.
The faculty, staff and students of Georgia Tech, have established a long tradition of service and philanthropy. During the seven months that I have been here, I have been enormously impressed and moved by the selfness of our community as represented by the many contributions that the people of Tech give to the Institute and the community beyond our campus. The rewards of these types of activities are countless and whatever we do, no matter how small, impacts the lives of those around us. From our alumni to members of the Greek community and student-athletes, I have noted that the volunteer spirit is alive and thriving at Georgia Tech.
Giving of one’s time and talents is something that is very personal and is different for each of us. However, as you decide where to focus your efforts, I ask that you consider what is important to you, individually. For example, Val and I are passionate about children, education, sustainability, the arts and being involved in the community.
Here at Tech, we see individuals like Yellow Jacket linebacker Kyle Jackson, who, because of a foot injury is not able to join his teammates on the field. Instead, he and fellow NCAA athletes recently helped Mary Lin Elementary School in Candler Park establish a garden. A portion of the brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and other vegetables grown by the students will be given to a local shelter providing fresh food for those without.
A number of other local K-12 schools are benefiting from the generosity of the tech community as well. More than 1,200 of our students volunteer as tutors, mentors and in other capacities at local elementary, middle and high schools.
A relatively new tradition on campus, “Tech Enhancing Atlanta Metropolitan” or TEAM Buzz, now involves nearly 1,400 students who volunteer for a myriad of projects ranging from serving at soup kitchens to planting trees, cleaning parks and building bridges and pathways.
Students, faculty and staff from the Language Institute recently received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the White House for their work at the Atlanta Food Bank. Student organizations competing in “Can-Tortion” at this fall’s Homecoming combined a building and display competition, with community service. The thousands of boxes and cans of non-perishable food used by student groups to build circus themed displays were donated afterwards to the Atlanta Food Bank.
Perhaps the most widespread way in which the Georgia Tech community “gives back” is through the Charitable Contributions Program, which benefits more than 1,200 local, state and international organizations. For eight of the past nine years, Georgia Tech has received the Governor’s Cup for having the largest “per capita contribution” for an organization of our size. Despite these challenging economic times, I am confident that our faculty, staff and students will meet the $325,000 fundraising goal we have established for this year.
The spirit of giving doesn’t stop after our students leave Georgia Tech. Our alumni are known for their unparalleled generosity. In fact, Georgia Tech has one of the highest percentages of alumni giving of any state university, and Roll Call, the Institute’s unrestricted annual fund, has raised more than $160 million since its inception 62 years ago.
What better time than the upcoming holiday season to get involved on campus and in the community? Giving is a wonderful way to return the kindnesses that you may have received in your own life. In turn, you will find that everything you do creates a positive ripple effect that will not only enhance your college experience, but also the lives of countless others. College is a time when you learn to be the person you will become for the rest of your life. Find your passion. In the process you will find that you will not only help others, but you will also be well on your way to achieving your own potential.