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Scholarship recipients learn the power of appreciation

Bonnie Anderson is lucky in her role as Director of Alumni Relations for B&E, in that she has a first-hand look at the good scholarships do for students. Now students are learning how to express one form of appreciation for the scholarships they receive.

For the second consecutive year, Anderson planned and executed the Scholarship Pizza Party, an event when student scholarship recipients learn how to write heartfelt and effective thank you notes to the donors who fund the scholarships they receive. And while this might seem to be a simple task, it isn’t. In fact, the event has captured the attention of the WVU Foundation, the fund-raising arm of West Virginia University.

“I really think creating a good hand-written note is a lost art,” Anderson said. “Donors like to hear how they made a difference in a student’s life, and this is one way students can show their appreciation.”

Anderson explained that the pizza party, which was held on September 14, consists of four parts for students: dress professionally and have a professional head shot photo taken for their LinkedIn accounts; listen to a presentation by Dr. Susan Jennings Lantz, teaching assistant professor in B&E’s Marketing department, on how to write a proper thank you note; write the thank you note; and eat pizza.

“What they learned from this experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives,” Anderson said, “not just in how to write the note but also the art of showing appreciation and recognizing the generosity of others.”

More than two-thirds of the 100+ scholarships recipients participated in the Scholarship Pizza Party, with the remaining recipients filtering in to Anderson’s office on alternate dates. The 85 scholarships at B&E average $2,500 per student.

On September 30, Anderson will make a presentation to the WVU Foundation on best practices of stewardship of scholarships, and will examine the B&E Scholarship Pizza Party as a model. And she said feedback from scholarship funders has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It seems like it’s so simple,” said Anderson, “but the result is very impactful.”