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Triple Match Derby online game.

The Triple Match Derby online game pitted thousands of young alumni in a race across campus with U legends and leaders, earning 200 points for hitting Bruininks, Comstock, and Coffman, but losing points for getting hit by Northrop and Mariucci, whose zamboni was tough to dodge. Once they crossed the finish line, many alumni made donation to their alma matter.

A race to give back

More than 51,000 alumni make 2007 among best years for grads giving to the U

From M, fall 2007

This past spring, hundreds of young alumni zipped around campus dressed as Goldy on a motor scooter, bumping into the likes of President Bruininks on a toy horse and Ada Comstock on a bike.

Okay, so the wild ride was virtual, but this interactive game earned some real dollars for the University from some 600 Generation Y alumni--those who graduated in the last decade. Donations from this group totaled more than $200,000 and the Triple Match Derby promotion helped increase the number of Gen Y alums giving back by more than 35 percent.

Jessica Nischik, who earned bachelors degrees in Spanish and marketing in 1999, was one such alum who made her first gift this year--a year that saw a record number of alumni supporting the U. "The U gave me my degrees, which have enabled me to get the jobs I've had," says Nischik, who lives in Portland, Oregon, and works as an administrative manager in the healthcare industry. "The U is definitely a worthwhile cause for me."

Nischik directed her support to the GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Scholarship, in part because she was helped by scholarships as a student and understands the difference they can make, both while in school and after graduation.

ALUMNI GIVING BY THE NUMBERS

Alumni Donors: 51,051

Gen Y: 1,930

Gen X: 7,176

Boomer: 25,483

Mature: 16,462

Data from fiscal year 2007, July 1, 2006-June 30, 2007

"Scholarships helped cover the cost of books and other supplies. Without them, I would have had to take out more loans, which would have made it more difficult to get established after graduation," she says.

While ensuring educational opportunities for others seems like a selfless act, there's also something in it for the donor, as Nischik points out: "Those of us already in careers will be working beside today's students when they graduate. I want to know that they got a solid education and are well prepared to make positive contributions. Scholarships help make that possible."

Vincent Mar, B.A., '85, also looked beyond the classroom when he decided to support students with his first gift to the U. Mar directed his gift to a scholarship in the China Center. "International education is very important to make our U better and better," explains Mar. "We all have a need to understand the outside world and I believe the China Center Scholarship will help more students understand China and its culture."

Gifts from Nischik, Mar, and thousands of other alumni were sparked by the U's commitment to reconnect with its graduates. Whether chatting with a student caller, or reading a letter or e-mail from the president, alumni continue to be engaged with their alma mater--at times even donning Goldy Gopher garb to chase esteemed University figures around campus.


Race around campus as Goldy on a motor scooter! Click to play the Triple Match Derby game.