As the semester wrapped up, 31 freshmen in Dean Paul Woodruff’s freshman signature course, Ethics and the Art of Giving, were able to experience the gift of giving on a scale far larger than their college budgets would normally allow.
A $100,000 donation from the Once Upon a Time Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising awareness about philanthropy, enabled the students to turn around and give that money to two worthy organizations after considering 32 possibilities.
Freshman Maclean Martin presented a check for $56,000 to Lone Star Paralysis, a local foundation focused on medical research and on recovery for people with spinal cord injuries. Speaking to representatives of Lone Star Paralysis, including executive director Mike Haynes, Martin said he was “totally floored by the opportunity to give.”
The remaining $44,000 was presented by freshman Jorge Wong to KIVA, a non-profit micro-finance institution based in San Francisco that enables anyone to lend money online to individual entrepreneurs worldwide. The class was attracted to the mission of KIVA because of their studies about the debilitating effects of poverty, which KIVA is dedicated to combating through the efficiency of micro-loans.
Such a success was Woodruff’s class that his students have already organized an official follow-up group in order to mentor the students in next year’s class. It will be structured as a history course taught by Pamela Paxton.
But Woodruff’s ultimate hope was the class would embody the philosophy that “to live a complete and flourishing successful human life, you must have the opportunity to be generous.” The obvious hope and enthusiasm in the classroom during the ceremony certainly was proof enough that this bold and innovative UT experience was one that will stay with these students for a long time to come.