How to ‘pay it forward’ at your alma mater
4 graduates of Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University learn to make a difference for those who follow
Twenty years ago, Craig and Barbara Barrett endowed Arizona State University’s honors college, which, when it was established in 1988, was the first four-year, undergraduate residential honors college in the country.
Barbara Barrett, (’72 BS, ’75 MPA, ’78 JD) a businesswoman, attorney and diplomat who currently serves as U.S. Secretary of the Air Force, and Craig Barrett, former CEO and chairman of the board of Intel who now serves on the faculty at ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, directed their gift to exclusively support honors students and their projects.
Their investment spurred an era not only of physical growth — more than tripling enrollment — but also intellectual growth, attracting young scholars from around the world. In 2017, ASU was one of only four universities in the U.S. to graduate a Churchill, a Marshall and a Rhodes scholar in the same year. All were Barrett students.
Some Barrett graduates say they have come to recognize the power of thoughtful, focused philanthropy. Here’s what they’ve learned.
A scholarship endowment may be more attainable than you think.
While he was a student at Barrett, Brett Fitzgerald’s (’13) professors encouraged him to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship, a highly selective, post-graduate international exchange program. “That experience teaching English in Korea after graduating from ASU was life-changing for me,” Fitzgerald says. He especially appreciated how his Barrett education prepared him to lead others.
After watching his three siblings — Chase, (’15), Scott, (’18) and Jenna, (’19) — graduate from Barrett and move on to meaningful careers, he began considering ways to give back to the school that meant so much to each of them. The four of them decided to pool their resources to create a scholarship.
Brett learned that some companies will provide a corporate match for charitable gifts. At the time, he worked for Salesforce and Scott worked for KPMG, both of which matched the siblings’ gifts. By combining their gifts with the matches, the Fitzgeralds were able to create a scholarship endowment — a permanent scholarship fund that is never depleted because every year ASU distributes interest from the fund and leaves the principal amount intact.
A college Dean’s Investment Fund is a good way to make a difference.
Barrett alum Samantha Winter McAlpin, (’08) spends a lot of time thinking about legacies. An attorney who practices law as an estate planner and probate litigator, that’s her job. McAlpin is only 34 years old, but she’s had plenty of time to be thoughtful about her own.
“When I consider my own legacy, I always think back to a saying I like a lot: If you have more than you need, you should build a longer table not a higher fence,” she says. “I think there are a lot of ways to do that. It can be time, it can be talent, it can be treasure.”
When it comes to time and talent, McAlpin maintains a pro bono practice assisting detained children in deportation proceedings with the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. There’s a huge need — the U.S. Constitution does not always guarantee immigrant children representation if they can’t afford it, leaving many to navigate the harrowing process alone.
When it comes to her treasure, McAlpin says tries to be just as strategic, giving where her gifts can do the most good. She found that supporting Barrett’s Dean’s Investment Fund is a good way to make a targeted difference. “At Barrett, I know that Dean (Mark) Jacobs uses his fund to support students with urgent needs. I feel strongly about that, and donating to the Dean’s Investment Funds makes me feel like my donations are particularly impactful,” she says.
You can cultivate the things you care about through your university.
For Chris Jaap, (’95) that means sustainability and students.
Jaap spent much of his career as an attorney in the renewable- and smart-energy industry, advising clients who manufacture renewable energy products and operate solar power plants.
While he did not earn his law degree at ASU, he says the individual attention and rigorous undergraduate education he received at Barrett sparked his intellectual curiosity in a way that served him well throughout his career.
“ASU gave me a start. It put me on the right path,” he says. “I did not know where it was leading but it gave me the skills to go in the right direction.”
None of that would have been possible, he says, without scholarships.
“I’ve been so fortunate and blessed in many ways starting with receiving scholarships early on. My parents could not have afforded to send me to college,” he says.
For several years, he gave back to Barrett by contributing the Sustainability House at Barrett, or SHAB, a residence hall designed to promote sustainable practices. Then, later in his career, he decided to give Barrett students the kind of support that helped him through college.
He endowed a scholarship to support Barrett students pursuing interests in sustainability.
“I want to help students in a similar way and provide them the opportunities to gain skills and knowledge they need to start off down the right path,” he says.
“By focusing on sustainability, I’m optimistic that the scholarship will inspire students to pursue and accomplish some amazing things in the sustainability field later in life, more than I could personally. I view it as a long-term investment in their future and that of the broader community.”
You can impact peoples’ lives even after they graduate.
Even by Barrett standards, Jamie Brooke Forseth, (’07, ’08) was a high achiever.
In four years at Barrett, she earned four bachelor’s degrees: a Bachelor of Music in violin performance, a Bachelor of Arts in political science, a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and a Bachelor of Arts in Integrated Studies with a concentration on Polish. Then, she took advantage of a joint BA–MA program in political science and earned a Master of Arts in political theory.
“ASU boasted a large student body when I enrolled as a student (and it has only grown since), while Barrett was a more navigable size. The ecosystem of the two communities enabled me to nurture a range of interests from political science to music performance,” she says. “The two communities cross-pollinated one another.”
But while she immersed herself in Barrett’s rich learning environment, Forseth says she didn’t often ask herself what she was going to do with four degrees. Through “happenstance” that “put her in the right place at the right time,” she began working for Barbara Barrett, who, with her husband Craig, is the college’s benefactor and namesake. She helped shepherd Barrett’s confirmation to be U.S. ambassador to Finland and served as her personal chief of staff at the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki.
When it came time to give to Barrett, she embraced the idea of helping students be proactive about connecting their academic and extracurricular activities with building a professional path for the future.
“When Dean Mark Jacobs mentioned the idea of a student success center, that resonated with me. It was Barrett’s solution to connecting the dots between academic studies and an impactful career.
“Teaching students how to succeed when they walk off the university campus — from resume and interview presentation to assessing team culture and business values — is just another way Barrett is on the forefront of transforming top-tier education.”
20 years of gratitude: ASU honors college thanks Craig and Barbara Barrett for 20 years of involvement and support
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