Back in the early 1980s, when Lake Lag was a lake and windsurfing was a one credit elective, when our computers were the size of refrigerators and we banged out our programs on punch cards, a dream came true. I was offered an athletic scholarship to attend Stanford. Then, as now, a Stanford education was so expensive that it wasn’t reasonable to even consider taking out loans to pay for it – the debt would be crippling. And paying cash wasn’t an option for me, a small town kid of limited means. It wasn’t going to happen without financial help.
I had a great experience at Stanford. I made great friends who are still my best friends today, our water polo team won a couple national championships (years number eight and nine in the current 39 year streak, if you’re counting) and I received a world class education.
I read the column the other day advocating for seniors to stop donating to Stanford, and making the case generally that Stanford has enough money. The authors said if we wanted to make a difference in the world, there are better, more thoughtful places to give. I got this at my core – I could have written this letter when I was graduating. I think I made a few small token gifts shortly after I graduated, but I knew the money wouldn’t move the needle. Like the authors of the column, I knew that if I truly wanted to make a difference in the world, there were better places to do it. So I gave money elsewhere, but more importantly, I gave my time and put my Stanford education to use working for land trusts like The Nature Conservancy, saving land for nearly 2o years.
Some-25 plus years since my graduation and with the perspective of time, I have a different view about giving to Stanford. It is hard to realize how special a Stanford education is, and how special being part of a lifelong Stanford community is, until you see it play out over decades. I’m just one of hundreds of thousands of Stanford students whose lives have been changed for the better. Beyond changing people, Stanford and the people it attracts are transforming the world around us. And I would argue that Stanford does this better than nearly all, if not all, educational institutions on the planet.
I’m giving again to Stanford now. Why, you ask? Because Stanford produces results; it transforms people and the world; and its students, faculty and staff inspire me. And I want to be part of that, because it makes me feel good and for me it is the right thing to do. I’ve also made a career change and am now giving my time to raise money to support students like me that couldn’t attend Stanford without financial help. If all goes well in my work in development at Stanford, hundreds more high school seniors will have the pleasure of saying yes to that special letter from Stanford in the spring.
Greg Gamble ‘87
Associate Director of Development
School of Humanities & Sciences
Contact Greg Gamble at ggamble ‘at’ stanford.edu.