Trusting Your Voice

by Misha Kalan '05

After I returned to Scripps, in early 2004, from a whirlwind adventure studying at the University of York in England, I was asked to serve on a student panel at the Board of Trustees retreat in March. Not one to turn down another adventure— or a free meal and chance to schmooze with the trustees—I accepted and joined two other students on a panel discussing campus social life. I came to a major realization that weekend: if I want to, I can make an impact at Scripps.

Since I want to go into development post-graduation, I elected to run for the student representative position on the Board’s Development Committee (now renamed the Institutional Advancement Committee). Fortunately, I was accepted (along with another student and an alternate), and I prepared to attend my first meeting, in October 2004. During an introductory session with Martha Keates, vice president for advancement, we were shown the ropes of typical committee meeting conduct, encouraged to speak up and not be intimidated by the trustees, and, most important, advised on what to wear. I walked out of that meeting looking forward to providing a current student perspective, eating fabulous lunches, and networking. I had no idea what I was in for.

I am not easily intimidated, nor am I often silent. That said, I admit to being quite anxious during the first trustee committee meeting; I barely said a word the entire time. It wasn’t just the casualness with which the trustees discussed tens of millions of dollars or the realization that I was sitting in a room full of influential and intelligent people who one day may have a building at Scripps named after them. It was the understanding that I have my work cut out for me.

Development is a lot more involved than I initially thought, from planned giving to the annual fund to campaigns to bequests. And there’s a lot more to asking for money than, well, simply asking for money. Sitting in a room with people who are quite accustomed to facts and figures (ones that were flying swiftly over my head) is intimidating… at first. It was during my second meeting with the committee that I realized that I too had something to contribute. I raised my hand and did so.

After the meeting, several other committee members thanked me for my input and mentioned that most of the time the student representatives don’t say much. I found it hard to believe that a Scripps woman would sit silently in a discussion regarding her school and home. Then, I remembered my initial intimidation. From that moment on, I resolved to always speak up when I have something of value to say. Though they are more experienced and knowledgeable than I am, the trustees and committee members have something important in common with me: we all love Scripps and want to see this college thrive. This shared interest made it easy for me to share my own opinions with them. The knowledge and experience I have gained working on the Institutional Advancement Committee will serve me well in the future.And who knows? Maybe I’ll get to be a trustee someday, too.