Guest Opinion: Philanthropy made my education possible


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Private support has made my experience at the University of Iowa possible, in ways too numerable to mention. Philanthropy has touched nearly every significant moment in my time at Iowa — but I will limit this to a couple of my most profound interactions with Phil.

Last summer, I worked at the UI Foundation for 10 weeks as a development intern. Going into this experience, I thought it was going to be a nice summer job. I thought of philanthropy as important but exclusive — something only rich people could possibly ever have the resources to participate in. I left the experience with my heart changed.

Through my internship, I had the opportunity to work closely with and learn from a mentor who raises funds for the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Iowa. I found fantastic friendships with my fellow interns and made connections with other incredible people — specifically, employees at the foundation and generous donors to the UI.

The internship helped me discover a passion for nonprofit work, not only in myself but also in the donors I had the pleasure of working with. Many people — from a wide range of backgrounds and with varying levels of wealth — give generously to the UI programs they care about, and each person or family has their own inspiration for giving back. Their generosity inspired me. The desire I once had for a career focused on power and prestige was gone, replaced by a drive to do meaningful work for programs people care about. By the end of last summer, I felt increasingly called to a career in art museum administration — a career that will give me the ability to work closely with donors and experience beautiful works of art every day.

This semester I am taking a course called the Art Museum: Theory and Practice. This unique art history class combines both traditional coursework in the history and theory of art museums with a lab facilitated by the UI Museum of Art. Through this class we have worked with the museum on special projects for the exhibition, From the Grand Tour to American Pop: Learning with the Alden Lowell Doud Collection. Not only was the collection given to the museum by a private collector, the course is also supported by other generous philanthropic contributions to the museum. Through classroom instruction and hands-on learning with an interesting and important collection of art, this class has been tremendously enriching preparation for my career — and it was all made possible by Phil.

I have received a superb education at Iowa, and now I understand that philanthropy played a critical role in making it all possible. I wanted to take a moment, since Phil’s Day is today to encourage fellow UI students to take a moment to appreciate Phil. I encourage you to reflect on the ways Phil has enhanced your experience and to express your gratitude to the wonderful people who are Phil to the UI.

Have a great Phil’s Day.

Morgan Brittain
Class of 2016
Vice President-Elect, UISG
President, Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow
2014 UI Foundation Development Intern, Student Philanthropy Group member

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