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By Clark Rhodes Hight, Class of 1986

Connecting

Last year I had the pleasure of reacquainting myself with the Pulp and Paper Foundation after way too many years of absence.  My motivation being that my children were entering the college scene and I saw firsthand how frustrating the college scholarship search had become.  I remembered being at State in the Pulp and Paper program where most of my classmates were on some sort of scholarship.  I remember my first letter from the school telling me I was on the waiting list and the stress I placed on my parents when I told them I was going to NC State . . . whether I had a scholarship or not.  As luck would have it, I did receive the scholarship and that opportunity set the course for my future, and my children’s.

clark and alex

Clark Rhodes Hight (’86) and daughter, Alex (’18)

Cultivating

I came to the 2014 Annual meeting, mostly looking forward to catching up with one or two old friends and early in the morning wandered into a committee meeting – the Individual Giving Committee.  I listened to the report of how well we (our alumni) support the program that walked us through 4+ years of college and ushered us out into the real world, showing the paper industry how great NC State students could be.  I will admit, I was a bit disappointed.  Even though we are considered to be one of the most dedicated, loyal and generous alumni groups on campus, I knew there was room for improvement. So did the rest of the committee.  Let’s face it, in our program, we never settle for anything less than the best!

Collaborating

So the committee devised a plan, a competition between classes, to see who can gather the largest percentage of their fellow classmates giving back to the program.  I was excited.  I knew we had a reunion coming up in only 2 short years and if we didn’t make it happen, no one else was going to.  I saw the class pledge competition as a chance to find my classmates and get us together again, after (*GULP*) 30 years.

More Connecting

I started with an email.  Many addresses bounced back but classmates helped fill in the blanks.  Someone out there always knows where a fellow classmate lives and works.  The pledging began and then we started receiving ‘reply all’ messages, sharing stories and asking questions.  Plans for a reunion began and the more people who commented, the more others responded – and pledged!  When we had about 30% participation and were in 3rd place, I let everyone know how many pledges it would take to grab 2nd place.  More pledges were made!  I have to say it has been a very exciting few months –reconnection and planning.  This year there were five of us at the 2015 Foundation Meeting and more plan for next year.

I was the most surprised at the number of friends who said “thank you” for getting us involved, for asking us to give. . .  and for getting us back in touch with each other after 29 years! Many classes experienced the same “reconnection” and catching up on one another’s lives.  Several reunions are planned for next year. As an alumnus, we found joy in hearing from classmates about personal and professional endeavors. As a parent with a student currently studying paper science, I am overjoyed to see that this campaign enabled us to updated contact information on our alumni and reengage them with our program. With our help, we can take this world class program from GREAT to EXCELLENT.

class of 2015 for news story

Class of 2015 Wins the Class Campaign with 71% pledging!

Contributing

In the end, I am happy that our class achieved second place.  Normally, this would never satisfy me, but first place was captured by the class of 2015 with 71% pledging.  This makes me feel good about the future of our program! We ended up with 58% of our class years participating and SEVEN of those classes were over the 20% pledging mark. Our main goal for next year’s class challenge is to have MORE ambassadors for each year.  If you know of anyone who would make a good ambassador, let us know!  This committee is proud of our hard work, and we have our sights set high for next year!!