Southeast #GivingTuesday an Extraordinary Success: One Day. One Gift. TWO Scholarships


Giving Tuesday 2016Southeast Missouri State University is proud to announce Giving Tuesday, an all-in, one-day “We Are One” effort to raise funds to create a need-based scholarship, was an enormous success, far surpassing its $5,000 goal.

As of Nov. 30, Southeast’s #GivingTuesday raised $11,160.30 from more than 330 individuals.

Southeast reached its initial goal before noon Tuesday and a generous donor matched that to endow the We Are One Scholarship.

An alumnus created a Facebook challenge match to spur on additional gifts throughout the afternoon and the outpouring of support allowed the Foundation to create a second We Are One Scholarship, said Bill Holland, vice president for University Advancement and executive director of the Southeast Missouri University Foundation.

As gifts continued to flow in Tuesday, Southeast set and reached a second goal of $5,000, and another donor matched that to endow a second need-based scholarship.

“Our generous Southeast family has stepped up to create two scholarships for two more students to achieve their educational dream,” Holland said. “The outreach we’ve received from the Southeast community has been an amazing display of compassion and generosity.”

Melvin J. Van de Ven, a 1964 graduate of Southeast, with Rowdy during Southeast's #GivingTuesday event.

Melvin J. Van de Ven, a 1964 graduate of Southeast, with Rowdy during Southeast’s #GivingTuesday event.

Southeast’s successful #GivingTuesday is a wonderful representation of the solidarity of the Southeast community during this holiday season, said Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of the University.

“It is wonderful to see our students receive this support,” Vargas said. “The exciting part is this is not just one person or one gift, but many people coming together. From students, faculty and staff on campus to alumni all over the world, so many have come together to celebrate and give back to the Southeast community.”

#GivingTuesday, Nov. 29, was a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Southeast invited its students, alumni, faculty and staff to join in the spirit of giving this year to create a scholarship to benefit a student with financial need. Every participant was invited to simply give $10 to establish the scholarships.

“It’s a very good, generous project,” said Melvin J. Van de Ven, a 1964 graduate of Southeast and managing partner of Van de Ven, LLC, Certified Public Accountants and Business Advisors, in Cape Girardeau. “I’ve tried to give back to the University in many ways. It’s so important for students and alumni.”

Van de Ven was a scholarship recipient when he attended Southeast and says he understands how financial support can positively affect student success because he lived it.

“It was a life saver for me,” he said. “It only takes a little bit from each person to make a big difference.”

Dr. Debra Lee-DiStefano and her class with Rowdy during Southeast's #GivingTuesday event.

Dr. Debra Lee-DiStefano and her class with Rowdy during Southeast’s #GivingTuesday event.

For Dr. Debra Lee-DiStefano, professor in the Department of Global Cultures and Languages, she is grateful her gift could be combined with others to make a significant impact on the success of a Southeast student.

“What I like about today is it’s for students who are in financial distress,” said Lee-DiStefano. “There are a lot of good students that may not meet the requirements for a standard scholarship or financial aid, and this is a very small way to help them. This could be the difference if they stay in school or not. To me that is so important.”

Emily Sepe, a senior hospitality major and student employee with the Foundation’s annual giving fund, said, “Working at the University, I’ve found a connection and a reason to give.”

Sepe shared information about Southeast’s #GivingTuesday on her social media accounts as well as the social pages for her classes. Although she’ll be graduating before the scholarships are available, she sees how much giving helps everyone, she said.

“It makes the scholarship more meaningful because everybody helped. It’s not just one person, but a community,” she said.

For more information about Southeast’s #GivingTuesday, visit