Stephanie Hyacinth ’84 and Barbara Aaron Rosston ’84
Stephanie Hyacinth ’84, the Vassar Fund Committee Chair, and Barbara Aaron Rosston ’84 have teamed up to serve as Class Fund Co-Chairs for their upcoming 35th reunion. They discussed their fundraising efforts with Alma Matters.
You will be celebrating your 35th reunion this June. What are you looking forward to most about your reunion?
BR: It is always wonderful to be back at Vassar! It’s great to connect with old friends, meet new ones who shared the Vassar experience, and to learn from some of today’s professors.
SH: I love the whole intergenerational aspect of reunion. Getting to hear about the lives of our elder alumnae — as well as from the students who volunteer to work that weekend — is great fun. Of course, I look forward to walking around our beautiful campus too.
Do you have any advice that you would like to share with other fundraising volunteers heading into a reunion year?
BR: Whether or not you have ever volunteered before, doing so around a reunion is fun and easy. The Development Staff is incredibly supportive, and making the phone calls and connecting with your classmates is great.
SH: My advice would be to always ask for support from a classmate because it’s for Vassar, and if you don’t ask you will not receive a gift. Also, it’s a great opportunity to hear from an alumnus/a, make a new connection, listen to concerns, and say thank you for supporting the college.
BR: Whether or not you have been in touch with your classmates, they always seem to welcome a chance to talk about Vassar. Don’t be shy or nervous about reaching out to someone you haven’t spoken to recently. The shared history is a great starting point.
SH: I would add, create as big a committee as possible so that you can spread the opportunities to solicit a gift over more people.
What made you decide to volunteer as Class Fund Co-Chairs for The Vassar Fund?
BR: The class of ’84 is a great class and very responsive. They make it fun to lead the effort and see what new heights we can reach. Stephanie and I have been partnering for years and we enjoy working together — each of us bringing our own strengths to the effort.
SH: I have been a Vassar volunteer since I graduated 35 years ago. In fact, I still have my Vassar keychain from my senior gift! For me, I believe I did a lot of growing up at Vassar. I lived in Jewett House all four years, and built solid relationships with friends that still exist today. In my heart, I know that I can never repay all that Vassar has given to me — an extraordinary education, a vibrant community of diverse friends, and life lessons on how to think, how to see into the lives of others, and how to “go to the source.”
Fundraising volunteers are tasked with reaching out to classmates and asking them to make a gift to The Vassar Fund. What do you think makes an effective appeal?
SH: An effective appeal is one that is honest, heartfelt, illuminating, and direct. People need to know that you are asking for a gift. Too much information and the ask itself gets lost.
BR: I also think that drawing on something that resonates with classmates from our time at Vassar helps to get their attention. And finally, the personal follow up — either by phone or email or text — is key to making sure that every donor feels valued.
What are your inspirations/reasons for giving back to Vassar?
SH: My Vassar education was made possible by the thousands of alumnae/i who came before me and made gifts to the college that directly supported my being there. It is only fair that I do my part to make sure that Vassar is there for the next generation.
BR: Vassar continues to deliver an amazing education, to an increasingly inclusive group of students. Access to that education is so important, and is one of my many reasons for giving back to Vassar. The faculty and administration are creative, engaged with the students, and thoughtfully partnering with each other, the community, and the students to broaden the education they deliver. What could be more inspiring?
Past Spotlight Volunteers
- Kat Mills Polys ’93
- Cynthia Patton ’83
- Judy Frithsen Lee ’69 and Leah Johnson Wilcox ’69
- Amanda Wallwin ’02
For more information about past spotlight volunteers or to suggest a volunteer to spotlight in the future, please contact Stephen Gnojewski at 845-437-5421.