Charger Nation Rallies Together to Help University Exceed Giving Day Goals
As part of the University’s recent Giving Day and Founders Day celebration, nearly 1,200 Chargers from across the globe celebrated the University’s 102nd birthday and raised more than $140,000 that will support important organizations, initiatives, and projects at the University.
May 5, 2022
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Sophia Gambale ’22 was a sophomore at the University of New Haven, she started her position as a lab manager for the University’s Center for Wildlife Forensic Research. Passionate about the lab’s important hands-on research, she has been involved with a variety of exciting projects since, and she’s grateful for the opportunities she’s had in the lab.
A forensic science major, Gambale has conducted research as part of the University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, and she has assisted with NASA Connecticut Space Grant-funded research exploring thermal variations in marshes and the impact of climate change. She recently shared her passion for the lab’s work – and introduced members of the University community to some of the lab’s live animals, including cockroaches – at the University’s Founders Day and Giving Day celebration.
“We are passionate about animals, wildlife, and the lab’s mission,” she said. “This event lets us share what we are doing and discuss our research. The support we get from this helps us ensure the animals have their needs met and are well cared for.”
‘I am proud to do this for the University’
The Center for Wildlife Forensic Research was one of 15 projects that donors could support as part of Giving Day. Gambale and her fellow lab members were at one of the many tables set up in the Beckerman Recreation Center where students and staff whose organizations were also among the Giving Day projects shared their work and passions with the University community.
Donors who supported the University on its 2nd annual Giving Day could make a gift in support of a particular project. “Honor the past, build the future” was the theme of the event, and the University exceeded its goals of raising $100,000 from 1,000 donors in 24 hours. Nearly 1,200 donors contributed more than $140,000.
“COVID has impacted students’ experience, and we want to continue to bring the spirit back to campus,” said Brian Otis, EMBA, vice president for advancement, at the kickoff. “We want to focus on student activities that aren’t always in the spotlight. I couldn’t be more grateful to be a part of this and to support this. I am proud to do this for the University.”
‘An experience like no other’
Founders Day, which celebrated the University’s 102nd birthday, brought students, staff, faculty, and alumni together for a fun day that included games, prizes, and food trucks. Chargers also attended the Giving Day kickoff, which included music from WNHU, the University’s radio station, and a performance by the Chargers Dance Team – both Giving Day projects.
Tiara Starks ’22, a communication major, was excited to see the University community come together to celebrate Giving Day.
“I am glad to see students get even more involved,” she said. “It’s important that students take part in this, and the impact of donations is great. It has been exciting and wonderful to see so many people come together to support the University. It’s an experience like no other.”
‘Set me up for success’
Dawn Alderman '99, '03 M.S., president of the Board of Directors of the University’s Alumni Association, described the event as “very energizing."
“I’m excited to be on campus to learn more about these great projects and to take part in these wonderful activities,” she continued. “Being here in person as an alum and seeing everyone so excited is great. It’s an incredible group of students.”
Gambale, the Center for Wildlife Forensic Research lab manager, also enjoyed taking part in the event and sharing in the excitement. Planning to pursue her master’s degree in ecology, evolution, and ecosystems at Drexel University after graduating this month, she is excited for the future and is grateful for the meaningful experiences she’s had as a Charger.
“I wouldn’t be able to have had the opportunities I’ve had at the University without this kind of support,” said Gambale. “This has set me up for success.”