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Volunteer Spotlight

Kat Mills Polys ’93

Having recently released her fourth studio album, SILVER, singer/songwriter and recording artist Kat Mills Polys ’93 reflects and shares her thoughts about volunteering as the Class Fund Chair for the class of 1993.

What made you decide to volunteer as a Class Fund Chair for The Vassar Fund? What are your inspirations/reasons for volunteering and giving back to Vassar?
I was a note-writer for years before becoming chair. I was raised by Southerners and have always loved writing thank-you notes, so that was a natural fit. It helped me stay in touch with classmates, but also to learn how the Fund works, AAVC, the calendar cycle, etc. When our class needed someone to step up and be chair, I was happy to take it on. I will volunteer for Vassar as long as I am breathing. My four years there were like a dream. I was challenged, inspired, and formed in Vassar’s loving arms. I found my lifelong friendships and my husband there, Nicholas Polys ’96! My classmates know that I still don’t want it to end. I would move back into Jewett tomorrow if given the chance. Volunteering is a way to feel close, involved, and to be one small part of making that dream for others.

You recently returned to campus for your 25th reunion. How has Vassar changed?
Like so many things in life, it has changed and remained the same. I was a student in the peak of the Fergusson years. The campus was colorful, safe, and experimental. I brought a typewriter with me freshman year. The admissions director in the late ’80s (James Montoya) was a skilled and innovative guy. He had created outstanding mixes of young people. The students around me were wild, smart, edgy, diverse, and loved to push back. It felt intense and inspiring. I knew I needed to bring my A game. The music, drama, and film departments were overflowing with talent and using very old school materials. This is also just before the Internet. So, the buildings and equipment were on their last 20th Century legs, and we wore it all out with heart and ideas! I don’t think a lot of us would be able to get into Vassar now. We were misfit toys.

Do you have any advice that you would like to share with other fundraising volunteers heading into a reunion year?
Much like elections, it’s all about turnout. If we can get folks to campus, they have a great time. And those fresh memories inspire new connections. The number one goal is always participation. Just get people psyched up to come to campus. Keep giving them the dates. Encourage them to make plans. Remind them that at Vassar you can just be who you are—no strings attached.

Class Fund Chairs write many letter and email appeals throughout the fiscal year. What makes an effective appeal?
I would imagine it may be different for different generations. Gen X can see right through anything phony, and we don’t like being told what to do. Being absolutely honest and genuine is important. I also find that people respond to personal stories. My classmates really love each other!

Please share your most interesting/rewarding volunteer experience.
For many years I volunteered from afar, writing notes and being on conference calls. I enjoyed it and was happy to be involved. I had even co-chaired our 20th Reunion Committee. Then, in the fall of 2017, I attended my first Volunteer Conference on campus, and I found out that there are other people who are as obsessed with their Vassar years as I am! I had a ball meeting new friends, talking, learning, eating, drinking, and feeling all those great VC feelings. It was wonderful for morale, helped me get my team ready for the 25th, and made me feel part of it all yet again. I am so grateful for the education I have received, but really more so for the values and the community. Vassar is my home, and I’m staying.

Past Spotlight Volunteers

  • 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.