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.”