Changing the World … One Drake Grad at a Time

Third-year student Josie Pokorny with primary school students in Uganda.

When Josie Pokorny first came to Drake in 2008 she spent the better part of five minutes traveling a full mile and a half from home to campus.

Since then, however, Pokorny has traveled halfway around the world and spent a couple of weeks in Uganda with other Drake students and faculty studying sustainable development. The trip, she says, was nothing short of life changing.

The experience has already had a huge impact on Pokorny’s life. Sure, she still plans to attend medical school but after this trip, she has another vision as well.

“I think I might refocus my future plans to be involved in healthcare-related service work on the needy places in America — places that are being a little overshadowed by foreign service work but are in just as much need,” she says.

Creating the Drake Advantage

To anyone who has met her, there is little doubt that Josie Pokorny will have a profound impact on the world.

And in that respect, she is not unique. This type of passion is evident in the lives of Drake students and alumni all over the world. But the Drake experience that fosters this passion would not be possible were it not for a lot of other people — those who provided funds for scholarships so students like Pokorny could attend Drake; those who donated to the general fund to ensure the highest-quality educational experience possible; and those who provided direct philanthropical gifts to the University for the creation of special labs, centers and educational tools.

“I am very fortunate to have won a National Alumni Scholarship that not only afforded me the opportunity to attend a prestigious private college like Drake but also made it easier for me to pursue my dream to go to medical school,” Pokorny says. “I’m not sure those who give money to Drake realize the great impact their philanthropy has on students’ lives. When you think about it in terms of the quality of student life at Drake, philanthropy is huge.”

The Right Time, The Right Place

Make no mistake. Drake University has a huge obligation — not only to students like Pokorny and the faculty, staff and alumni who make up our community but to the rest of the world.

“Look at the leadership role we already play,” says Drake President David Maxwell. “We could not have come this far and do what we are already doing without the support we receive from alumni and friends. Ultimately it is all about keeping the promise we’ve made.”

And, explains Maxwell, in order to keep the promise we’ve made to students and to society at large, the University announced in early October the launch of distinctlyDrake, a comprehensive campaign, as the catalyst to ultimately achieve the vision of the University.

2010 Year-End Giving

Gifts can be made online through Drake’s secure website. Online donations submitted through December 31 will be recorded as 2010 gifts.

The Office of Alumni and Development will be open from 8 a.m. to noon on December 29 and December 31 to process year-end credit card gifts by phone at 515-271-4558.

“We have to recognize that in order to continue fulfilling our mission, we have to acknowledge that everything around us is changing, and we need to make sure we keep pace,” says Maxwell.

Today, explains Maxwell, the University is at one of the most vital moments in its history. With established and growing success, the vision of Drake is to be — and be recognized as — one of the very best institutions of higher education in the nation. Certainly, it is a compelling and ambitious goal. But it is one that is attainable.

“We have a strong vision for the University,” says John Smith, AS’92, GR’00, vice president for alumni and development. “We can’t achieve this vision with just sound administration, but we can reach our aspirations with a passionate community committed to providing the necessary resources.”

Patty and Fred Turner Jazz Center exterior photo

State-of-the-art facilities like the Patty and Fred Turner Jazz Center help Drake fulfill its promise to students of providing an excellent educational experience.

Philanthropy at Work

As the Peggy Fisher and Larry Stelter Chair of Magazine Journalism, Lori Blachford has realized firsthand the benefit of philanthropical giving to the University. She is the inaugural chair of the position, which guarantees that the magazine studies program will be a permanent part of the Drake experience.

“Our philanthropists recognize that our industry is changing at a record pace,” says Blachford. “Because of that, our students need the right equipment to not only stay current but also to anticipate what’s yet to come.”

This is true across campus. Whether it is cutting-edge laboratories in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, networking events in the College of Business and Public Administration, or centers that encourage multidisciplinary collaboration, philanthropy has made it all possible.

“Philanthropy has provided countless opportunities for our students,” says Raylene Rospond, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “Gifts for scholarships and the white coat ceremony have connected our entering students with the Drake pharmacy community and have demonstrated that our alumni are engaged in the lives of our current students.”

Adds Joe Lenz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences: “The gifts we receive — whether from major benefactors or Annual Fund donations — help to underwrite the exceptional learning environment we strive to provide to our students.”

“Sometimes the benefits are visible, like the Patty and Fred Turner Jazz Center, and sometimes the benefits are less visible, though they are still palpable, even life-changing, to our students.”

A Culture of Philanthropy

Ensuring that students like Pokorny have access to the resources they need to succeed is no easy task. Living up to our full potential will take time, dedication and the commitment of the entire Drake community.

And it won’t come simply through the establishment of one scholarship or another. It will come from a collective desire for Drake to reach its full potential. This will not be achieved by simply setting and achieving a specific fundraising goal but by the creation of a continued culture of philanthropy.

“Achieving our vision requires passion, commitment, dedication, responsibility and transformation on the part of faculty, staff, students and alumni,” explains Rospond. “Our philanthropic investments of time and resources allowed the Drake of the past to become the nationally recognized University of today.”

These investments will continue to be necessary for Drake to become the University of the future.

“Drake is in great shape thanks to the planning and generosity of a lot of people, ” says Maxwell. “But like any great institution we have a vision of what is next. It’s about the idea of making this collective vision come true. This is what we all want to be.”

“Philanthropy is transformative,” explains Lenz. “It changes the landscape at Drake. It changes the campus experience for our faculty, staff and students. It changes the lives of those who receive and those who give. Philanthropy makes a difference: It is the difference between an ordinary university and a distinctive one.”

One Response to “Changing the World … One Drake Grad at a Time”

  1. I love this article!