November 16, 2016 by Adriana M. Chavez, NMSU News Center
Joseph and Bridget Salopek, both alumni of New Mexico State University, believe strongly that everyone deserves an education, regardless of their economic situation. In order to make that a reality for students, the Salopeks made a $25,000 gift pledged over five years to establish a permanent endowed scholarship during last year’s Giving Tuesday event at NMSU.
Salopek 6U Farms is one of the largest family-owned pecan farms in the world, and the Salopek family has a long legacy of support for NMSU, but Joseph and Bridget wanted to make this gift on their own.
“Joseph and I are big advocates and supporters of NMSU, and we believe that a great education is important,” Bridget Salopek said. “We were inspired to establish our own scholarship endowment at NMSU outside of our family’s giving, because we want to give a student who may not be able to cross the finish line without a scholarship an opportunity to earn their college degree.”
Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving powered by social media and collaboration, can have a significant impact locally by providing for scholarships and programs across the entire New Mexico State University system, from the Las Cruces campus to its community college campuses, satellite learning center, and extension, research and science centers across the state.
NMSU will hold its second-annual Giving Tuesday event on Nov. 29. Last year’s Giving Tuesday event, part of the national giving day on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, brought in more than $2.9 million in gifts to scholarship funds at all NMSU campuses around the state. Adding in one-time matching dollars from the NMSU Alumni License Plate program and an estate gift from a generous Aggie donor, the total added to NMSU’s endowment came to $5.7 million.
More than 82 new scholarships were established last year, and the initiative drew more than 2,440 donors, including 655 who were making their first-ever gift to the NMSU system.
The entire community is invited to celebrate Giving Tuesday again this year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 29 at NMSU’s Giving Tuesday headquarters in Corbett Center Student Union’s Aggie Lounge on the Las Cruces campus. A special kickoff celebration is planned at 9 a.m. with NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers and other guests, and a closing celebration will start at 5 p.m. Free parking will be available in designated areas between Corbett Center and Milton Hall.
Online gifts may also be made on Nov. 29 by visiting advancing.nmsu.edu/givingtuesday.
This year’s event features select fund-matching opportunities, given by donors to boost some of the scholarships and causes they support. For example, if 250 of last year’s first-time Giving Tuesday donors make a contribution during Giving Tuesday 2016, then a $10,000 gift will be made to the general fund by Carruthers and his wife, Kathy, along with the Alumni Association.
Additionally, alumni who make their first contribution during Giving Tuesday 2016 will be matched by a generous Aggie donor, up to $250 per household.
Andrea Tawney, president of the NMSU Foundation, said seeing more alums like the Salopeks stay involved with their university and invest in its students is an important part of what Giving Tuesday is all about.
“Scholarships really do create amazing opportunities for our students, many of whom are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, so every gift we receive for them has a huge impact,” Tawney said. “If every one of our alumni gave even $5, we could help thousands more students achieve their educational goals and enter the workforce.”
The Salopeks’ endowed scholarship is available to a student like them, returning to school after spending some time away from college. That may be a student who has left New Mexico to go to a college or university out of state, but did not complete their undergraduate degree, and wants to finish at NMSU.
“This could also be a student who may have taken some time off of school, and decided they wanted to return and finish their degree,” Bridget Salopek said. “They would have to be in good standing with their previous school, and would have to have a cumulative GPA of 3.0. There are so many students who fit this bill, who may not have eligibility for certain scholarships because of the gap in their studies.”
The Salopeks said they hope their gift will inspire alumni and others to do the same in order to make a difference in the life of a student.
“Being able to help and make it a little less stressful for them in their academic journey is a really wonderful feeling,” Bridget Salopek said. “Funding college expenses can be very hard for students and their families, and being able to help make someone’s life a little better by providing them an opportunity to lessen their financial burden is amazing.”
To spread support for #GivingTuesday, join the social media conversations on Twitter @NMSUAlumFriends, Facebook/NMSUAlumFriends, Instagram @nmsualumfriends and NMSU Alumni and Friends on YouTube. Watch for and share the following hashtags to spread the word about the day of giving: #GivingTuesday, #NMSUGiving, #NMSUPhilanthropy and #SupportNMSU.
For more information on additional matching gift opportunities for your #GivingTuesday contribution, including other faculty, staff and student matching pledges, visit advancing.nmsu.edu/givingtuesday.