Opening heart, mind to philanthropy
When Madison Barker signed up for a Jan Term class about philanthropy, she had
no idea what was in store for her.
"Basically, I took it because my best friend was taking it," she says. "The only
thing I knew about philanthropy was what I'd hear from the fraternities and sororities.
I knew nothing about it, that it was about charity, nothing like that."
Madison, a first-year student from Fort Myers, Fla., wasn't able to take advantage
of an off-campus course because she plays basketball, a winter sport. But she and
her best friend Kelsey Mitchell, who also plays basketball, decided to take course
together. Madison left it to Kelsey to choose – and she decided on "Where Your
Treasure Is …: An Introduction to the Theology, Philosophy and Stories of Philanthropy
It was during a discussion on stewardship that things started hitting home for
"About the third day in class, we started talking about how everything here on
earth belongs to God and the concept of having treasures. That really stuck with
me," she says.
"We were talking about materialistic things, and then I thought about my dad.
He's my family, he's my treasure."
Part of the class assignment included writing in a journal after each day's class.
That particular day, Madison was inspired to do more than that.
"I called my dad and told him how much I appreciate him," she says. "I told him
that he is my treasure."
Madison also talked about the course and what she's been learning.
"He told me he was very proud of me. It was a wonderful conversation."
But it was the end-of-class activity that was the "cherry on the top" of Madison's
Jan Term experience.
"Instead of taking a test, we actually went out with the college's gift officers
to visit people who have given back to the college. Will (Jones, Vice President
for External Relations and the course teacher) arranged it so Kelsey and I could
meet women who'd actually played basketball here. It was so cool."
One of her favorites was Judy Greer '57, H'07.
"She was wonderful," Madison says, a grin lighting her face. "She showed us her
yearbook and her varsity jacket, which was really more like a sweater than a jacket.
She was part of the first basketball team here back when there weren't even boys
here. She was all over the yearbook – she was Miss LaGrange, she was everything."
Madison says she wants to earn a degree in education.
"I'm not sure if I want to be an elementary teacher or a high school teacher and
coach, but I do know that I want to give back. Even if I don't pursue a job in
philanthropy, I definitely want to give back."
And she says it's all because of what she learned in her Jan Term course.
"Honestly, this was one of my most favorite classes I've ever taken – ever," she
says. "It made me think a lot and really appreciate the things I have in my life
– even my education. God gave me my education, and I'm so lucky to have it and
to be here."