Senior Class President Johnny Sower and Student Body President Paul Jalsevac were tossing around ideas for the annual senior gift during the opening days of their last year at Christendom. How were they going to outdo the Class of 2002, which had managed to raise $5,000 to purchase two beautiful angel statues for the altar in the chapel of Christ the King. The two considered building a deck overlooking the river, or having certain areas on campus paved. But they really wanted to do something different to make their mark on the future of Christendom College.
Under their impressive leadership, the Class of 2003 has raised a record high $26,000 for its senior gift. The money will fund an endowed scholarship to benefit returning students. The gift is comprised at this point of pledges from the seniors themselves and matched pledges by their parents. The merit-based scholarship will benefit sophomores, juniors, and seniors, who sometimes lose scholarship money after their freshman year. “The students who shaped the specifications of this scholarship had a very specific goal,” said John Ciskanik, the College’s VP of Development. “When they approached me about the scholarship, they wanted to help those students who sometimes had to leave the school after their freshman year because their scholarships did not provide a continuous level of aid during their subsequent years.”
“Somehow it didn’t seem likely that a senior class gift organized by these two would be ordinary,” said College Development Officer Tom McGraw, who advised the pair during their quest to raise $25,000 for an endowment. “After one hour of talking with Johnny and Paul, I could see how confident they were that they would be able to make their goal of $25,000,” continued McGraw. “If this is any indication of what they are capable of, I’m looking forward to seeing what these two do after they graduate,” McGraw concluded.
Both young men have interesting histories. Johnny Sower comes from a long line of elected officials; his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served as mayors of Kentucky’s capital city of Frankfort. And Paul Jalsevac, the Wonderboy himself, miraculously came back to Christendom after being at death’s door from injuries in a horrible car accident.
Johnny and Paul formed a simple plan to ask each of the 70 seniors to pledge $5 per month for the next three years. If every senior made this pledge, and obtained a matching pledge from a parent, sibling, or friend, they would meet their goal. “It didn’t work out exactly according to our plan,” said Sower, with a slightly sardonic smile. “After all, some of our seniors are going to be taking a vow of poverty pretty soon, and we couldn’t expect them to make a three-year pledge.” All in all, if you take out those seniors who are likely to enter the seminary or the convent, the class had over 90% participation, along with outstanding support from their parents, who matched the gifts of their graduating children. “We are going to be a pretty hard act to follow for future Senior Classes,” said Jalsevac. “But then again, that’s the idea. We want to challenge future classes to raise money for this scholarship, and try to surpass what we’ve accomplished.”