Alumni support the University in many different ways. David Dalgarno (LLB Law 1974-77) explains how and why he got involved.
When I was asked to write this article, I have to say my inclination was to say no. Giving is a very personal thing to do, something you discuss and agree at home, something which fulfils your own goals not something that you write about. So, why am I sharing my experience with others? The quick answer is because I have found it an immensely pleasurable experience and one that maybe you have also experienced. If not, I’ll try to describe my journey …
Several years ago, out of the blue, I received a phone call from one of the development team at Warwick. A friendly voice said that Warwick was pro-actively trying to get in touch with alumni to talk to them about Warwick’s progress, to hear about what alumni were doing and in the long run, hopefully, garner support for Warwick.
Reflecting on the request, I had fond memories of the University. I sometimes flicked through the alumni magazine when it arrived on my doorstep to see if there was anything about the Law School or someone I studied with but, in reality although positive, there was not much else. Still I had had a good time at Warwick and I could spare half an hour. I agreed to the appointment.
The first visit ignited many happy memories. We talked about my experiences at university and my life since leaving. We also talked about the issues which current students face nowadays, the challenges that a university like Warwick faces in ensuring that they track down and recruit the brightest and best students. The conversation turned to a discussion about scholarships. Warwick had already established a good scholarship programme funded by alumni and friends through the telephone campaign, and those who had been visited face to face. The fundraiser described students who had benefited from the scholarship programme. There were scholars who, despite huge challenges in family circumstances, had managed to attain outstanding A level results and get a place at Warwick. There were students who had not even heard of university when they were 15. Fortunately they had been encouraged by teachers in their schools to study at Warwick, where scholarships helped with the finances and they left with upper second degrees. I could see that such educational opportunity was life changing.
In my own mind, giving to charity was about supporting medical or third world charities. Higher Education didn’t have the same emotional draw – that was until I began to hear about the scholars..
I duly agreed to support the scholarship programme. I received a scholarship report from the student I supported. It was very rewarding to read about a student making progress, enjoying their time at University and broadening their horizons.
As time has gone by, I have become increasingly involved in Warwick. I’ve helped to develop the Multicultural Scholars’ Programme which supports ethnic minority students reading Law. The law firm where I work has also got involved by funding scholarships, offering work experience and work shadowing opportunities to students without easy access work in the legal world.
When I receive reports telling me that the scholars have just passed their first year exams or graduated or have got on the first rung of their career – sometimes in the City, sometimes in their local community - it is a good feeling.
I’d encourage anyone to get involved with Warwick. There are so many opportunities to make a difference: the scholarship programmes are just one way but maybe medical research or Africa matters to you. I’ve learnt that Warwick does want to make a difference and is very pleased to work with you to help you make a difference too. I’m glad that I said yes to the first meeting!
To watch video interviews with MSP scholars and to find out how you can help the programme, visit the Multicultural Scholars Programme website.