“I thank you for introducing me to the law, to my many friends, to my husband and I thank you for opening my eyes to the world around me in a way that I had never experienced.” Those words spoken by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’73 while accepting the Award of Merit this month were nothing short of profound and spoke volumes about the YLS experience. Being grateful, expressing appreciation and, yes, simply giving thanks are such a central part of the fabric of the YLS community.
That’s why every year at this time we notify students that the need based institutional scholarship they received was supported through one of the endowed funds established by a YLS donor. And as such, we ask you to acknowledge the support you have received with a simple thank you letter or note (whatever you wish to call it) to that donor.
And each year we have the students who can write amazing opinions, memos and SAWs for class develop a severe case of writer’s block at the thought of composing a thank you note. “What do I say to this donor who I have never met” is a common refrain. Actually it’s very easy … because what the donor wants to know above all else is …. you! Our donors take great pleasure in seeing that their funds are actually supporting “real” YLS students. So talk about what you know best… yourself. Tell them why you came to YLS, what courses you have found the most rewarding or challenging, talk about clinic work, SPIF or summer employment experiences, tell them what you hope to do with your life going forward. Make them realize that their generosity supported a living, breathing law student with goals and aspirations. And, yes, somewhere along the way in telling your personal story, you should also utter the words “thank you” for their support of your scholarship.
Remember that what you and our donors have in common is that Yale Law School connection that Secretary Clinton articulated so well. Many of our endowed funds are established by alumni themselves or by the family members or professional colleagues of an alum as a memorial or honorarium. It is in essence a “pay it forward” movement that celebrates not only the donor’s or honorees’ Yale Law School experience but insures that the same experience is then passed forward to another generation of students through their scholarship support. (And with the hope that someday you too will reflect back on your YLS experience and find a way to “pay it forward” yourself).
Think of the whole process as Thanksgiving coming a little bit early… minus the turkey and stuffing… but with the same sentiment of gratitude and appreciation for what you have received.
A reminder for those of you with scholarships from our endowed funds…. What’s more fun than writing a thank you letter alone? A thank you letter writing party! This annual event which will be held November 4th,6th and 7th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Ashmun. Get inspiration and encouragement from your peers to write your thank you and share in some dinner, drinks and dessert.