“Princeton gave me so much,” says Bob Nahas, “above all, the ability to think critically.” He “learned so much in a variety of areas. Every day I am grateful for the broad education I received.” He also cherishes “the friendships I made, and connection with so many Princetonians.” That connection has expanded through his work as class agent.
Kentucky native Kevin Smith is driven to “help the people of Appalachia in any way I can.” So why does he volunteer for Princeton? “It’s an easy answer,” he says. “The experience I had at the Woodrow Wilson School, the contact with the faculty, the wide interests of the students, has made my current work possible.”
Jim Balassone has been involved in Princeton fundraising for 46 years, and is currently special gifts co-chair for the Class of 1964’s 50th Reunion campaign. “Every contact with a fellow Princetonian, whether someone I knew at Princeton or someone I have met in recent years, has proven to be its own reward,” he says.
When Robert Gleason reflects on what Princeton means to him, he focuses on “the concept of continuity. We honor Princetonians who came before, and work to make an even better experience for the students of the future.” He appreciates “the huge strides the University has made to welcome, accept, and celebrate LGBT students, and all kinds of students. That makes me want to double down on my volunteer commitment.”
Marina Mitchell, chair of Annual Giving for the Graduate School, came to Princeton from the Republic of Georgia to pursue a master’s degree at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “I am from a country where family and friends are extremely important,” she says. “You live among a close group of people who really care about one another. When I came here from Georgia, that is what Princeton gave me. That, and a superb education. Now I’m trying to give back to Princeton.”
Evan Fieldston says he volunteers for Annual Giving because he values Princeton’s culture of giving back, in which alumni support makes the undergraduate experience possible for new generations. “Being a part of that tradition means a lot to me,” he says.
John Rustum was the first person in his family to attend college, thanks, he says, to the hard work of his parents and the financial assistance Princeton provided. He feels “a special debt of gratitude to the Princetonians who came before me, whose generosity to the University made my education possible.” As a longtime Annual Giving volunteer, special gifts co-chair, and now co-class agent, he aims “to do for future students what other alumni did for me.”
John Proctor remembers, “as if it were yesterday,” listening to the late Robert F. Goheen ’40 *48, then University President, at the Class of 1964’s freshman orientation gathering. Goheen “spoke with considerable emotion about Princeton’s culture of ‘giving back,’ which to me meant that I had a duty to the University and a duty to society.” Proctor says he treasures the education he received at Princeton, and “will always be grateful to the University and will do what I can to help maintain its excellence.”
It is not unusual for co-class agents to confer, discuss their Annual Giving goals, and plan strategy. Cameron Barrett and Rahsaan Harris, however, have raised the bar for a class agency cooperative enterprise and just plain togetherness: they were tent mates on a recent mountaineering expedition to the 19,341-foot peak of Tanzania’s Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Andy Cowherd embarked on his first volunteer assignment for Princeton in 1970: he was elected president of the freshman class, later known as the Great Class of 1974. He was returned to the presidency in 1999 and has held that office ever since. While he has taken brief vacations from class officership, he has never taken a vacation from service to the University.