Student philanthropists step up to help fellow Banana Slugs with Senior Legacy Fund

During UC Santa Cruz's Alumni Weekend festivities, the Senior Class Council of 2014 invited young alumni to join them at Motiv in downtown Santa Cruz for an event filled with conversation, appetizers, and student support.

A strong culture of philanthropy exists among UC Santa Cruz’s Banana Slugs, even before they graduate and make their way in the world.

This "Slugs helping Slugs"’ philosophy drives members of UC Santa Cruz's Senior Class Council, a student philanthropy group that helps fellow students by asking the senior class to contribute to the Senior Legacy Fund, the only student-initiated, student-funded, and student-distributed pool of money on campus.

This year the fund provided scholarships for two juniors – a ‘pay it forward’ strategy that inspires donors long into the future while easing the financial stresses of students as they enter senior year.

Scholarship contenders submitted essays about the importance of "spirit, legacy, unity, and giving." Not coincidentally, the first letters of those four words spell "SLUG," a reference to UCSC’s banana slug mascot, which turns 25 this year.

The Senior Class Council encourages students to honor their class by donating $20.14. This year, the Council is well on its way toward raising enough money to distribute $2,500 scholarships to two UCSC juniors next year, if that's how the Class of 2015 chooses to use the fund. The council hopes to raise $10,000 to pass on to the Class of 2015.

Each student’s contribution may be modest, but the scholarships make a big difference, said Chelsea Kane, co-chair of the Class of 2014 Council, along with Ada Recinos. “Our two scholarship recipients are no different from the thousands of other students at UC Santa Cruz who might at times find themselves stressing over finances just as much as they stress over midterms.”

One of the recent recipients, Tarren McNally, said the scholarship eased the stresses of senior year.

“College is hard enough to afford and tackle under the best circumstance,” McNally said.“As the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college, and being solely supported by my disabled father, I have worked very hard to be here.”

"Despite our best efforts, and even with constant saving, taking on piles of loans, work study, and scholarships as each year went around, I fell short,” McNally continued. "This scholarship … not only gave me a financial boost when I needed it most but gave me mental and emotional affirmation. To see that my fellow students who are also tackling so much can still take the time and energy to care and believe in me is more touching than I can ever fully put into words."

Quan Tran, another Senior Legacy Fund recipient, received an important boost from fellow students. “My parents work very hard to finance my college education, so earning a scholarship eases my mind; I have helped lift some burden from their shoulders,” Tran said. “Without my fellow students, this scholarship would not exist … In honor of them, I hope to emulate these qualities throughout my journey as a banana slug and onward."