I had always envisioned myself as a self-starter. After all, I worked really hard at whatever goals I set for myself.

I was driven to do my best in all aspects of my life, whether in school, sports or work. I believed that I depended on no one; all my accomplishments had been mainly achieved by my personal determination.

Sure, a few people had helped a little, but 98 percent of the credit had to go to me. Wow, could I have been more conceited and arrogant?

It took me a few years to realize that my perception of myself was seriously flawed.

Would I have done as well in school if my mom hadn’t created an environment at home that supported my learning?

Would I have done as well in sports without dedicated coaches and a parent willing and able to drive me to and from practices?

The hypotheticals go on and on, from my grandparents who taught me a strong work ethic to all the teachers, professors, supervisors and mentors who have challenged me.

Despite the fact that these are all hypotheticals, and I could have done fairly well without those people, I doubt that I would be where I am now without them. In short, I now realize that all these people have had a tremendous impact on my achievements.

I may have put in a fair amount of work, but their support system was absolutely vital.

To honor and recognize the people who have supported me and created opportunities for growth, I choose to donate. But oddly enough, it’s extremely difficult to donate to individual people.

My parents scoffed at my mention of wanting to “donate” to them since they make far more than I do and their cost of living has dropped precipitously with their number of dependents at zero.

Instead, I choose to give to organizations that in some way represent people that I honor or that strive to accomplish missions that I admire. For me, one of those organizations is Linfield College.

Linfield College not only provided me with a superb education and fantastic opportunities—both during and after college—but it also opened my mind to new and different ways of thinking.

I only managed to enjoy these benefits due to the investments that Linfield made in me through several scholarships. As a result, I feel a deep, personal gratitude for Linfield.

Above all, I feel a strong connection to Linfield.

To support their mission of providing integrated learning opportunities for current and future students, and to give thanks for my own personal benefits, I choose to give.

True, I am a recent college graduate on a tight budget and what feels like a mountain of debt through school loans looming over me.

My gift reflects my tight budget; I give $10 a month to Linfield. That $10 is a tiny drop in an enormous bucket. But for me, giving isn’t about the size of the gift.

It’s a symbolic gesture that demonstrates appreciation and love. And those are certainly feelings that I have with regards to Linfield.



Lauren Ross,

Class of 2011,

Seattle, Wash.