Hills­dale’s 1844 Society hosts a mixer at Rough Draft. Courtesy | Ethan Lehmann

The 1844 Society, an alumni and student orga­ni­zation aimed at fos­tering a spirit of thanks­giving towards the college, held its first mem­bership drive of the year at Rough Draft last Thursday. 

The orga­ni­zation invited stu­dents and current members to an evening of social­izing, com­pli­mentary drinks and desserts, and a chance to learn more about the society. 

After min­gling, attendees drifted into one of Rough Draft’s event rooms to hear from Pres­ident Braden VanDyke and Assistant Director of Student and Young Alumni Pro­grams Fiona Shea.

“I’m not going to talk about the net­working oppor­tu­nities, the stole at grad­u­ation, or that it’s the cheapest way to get a brick in the walk,” VanDyke said. “I’m going to talk about how you can give to what you love.” 

The mem­bership drive focused on sharing the mission of the society: inviting stu­dents to embrace a focus on grat­itude, service, and stew­ardship. VanDyke encouraged inter­ested stu­dents to fill out a donation card pledging support for the orga­ni­zation or department of their choice. 

Sophomore Jack Golden said he was impressed by the lead­ership team’s address at the event. 

“It wasn’t con­trived proverbs about being grateful,” Golden said. “It was, ‘It’s a respon­si­bility because you’re grateful.’ They actually enjoy what they’re doing, and are sincere about giving back because it’s some­thing good to do.”

The orga­ni­zation encourages stu­dents to practice grat­itude toward the college before and after grad­u­ation, through financial support and engagement with the college’s current student and alumni events. This year, the group plans to raise awareness by hosting addi­tional mem­bership drives, helping with the annual Day of Thanks donor thank-you writing event, and hosting a junior legacy dinner.

“It’s driven by stu­dents, and I think the mission is so true, good, and beau­tiful,”  Shea said. “We encourage our stu­dents to give back to our campus and always make sure that the culture stu­dents get to par­tic­ipate in is thriving for future gen­er­a­tions of college stu­dents.” 

The 1844 Society also offers lead­ership oppor­tu­nities within the orga­ni­zation.

“When you sign up for lead­ership on the 1844 team, you’re also signing up to be able to engage and educate everyone about what the mission is, and how they can get involved,” Shea said.

Any student can pledge to the society by donating $3 per month — “the price of a coffee at A.J.’s cafe,” said junior Brandt Siegfried, the society’s devel­opment lead.  The money can go to a club, orga­ni­zation, or the department of the donor’s choice. Siegfried said he gives his monthly pledge to the Catholic Society. 

“It’s really awesome to know that I’m giving to my college,” Siegfried said. “But my gift to the college is also sup­porting a campus min­istry that has very actively been a part of devel­oping me as a person who will graduate and live well.” 

Stu­dents can make gifts by con­tacting Fiona Shea or the 1844 lead­ership team, which includes VanDyke, Siegfried, Ethan Lehman, Taylor Dick­erson, and Luciya Katcher. Shea said stu­dents will soon be able to donate via a new 1844 Society website.

Members of the 1844 Society hope to foster a sense of grat­itude for the dili­gence required to educate each Hillsdale student. 

“Working in the lead­ership of 1844 Society espe­cially has made me under­stand, truly, how much work goes into pro­viding our edu­cation, which happens both in and outside of the classroom,” Siegfried said. “But I think most of all, it’s a perfect demon­stration of the fact that we are blessed beyond belief to be here.”