Students helping students

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The culture of philanthropy grows at NAU.

Diane Buzzard is a champion defender for Northern Arizona University women’s soccer, and she is an excellent student in environmental engineering. Buzzard, a junior, also dedicates time every month to give back to the community by volunteering with several local groups including elementary schools and Northland Hospice. As a recipient of the Student Philanthropy Scholarship, Diane Buzzard exemplifies the full circle of giving and the growing culture of philanthropy at Northern Arizona University.

It is because of other generous students that Buzzard is able to thrive in both academics and athletics and still have time for giving back. In 2012, the Student Philanthropy Council (SPC) selected her for its annual award. The SPC, founded in 2007, fundraises from students and then assists with distribution of scholarships for students who are both academically successful and committed to extracurricular programs. Buzzard feels honored to have been selected by her peers.

“I know how hard it is to budget as a student,” Buzzard says. “The fact that students had the time and the money to give back to another student, like me, is huge. I know the sacrifice it takes, so it means a lot."

Student group paves the way

Abraham Kelley, senior coordinator with the NAU Fund, says the SPC has developed several student scholarships at Northern Arizona University, including the one that Buzzard received. The first was the Senior Class Gift six years ago. Since then students have donated $50,000 towards scholarship programs and have proven how the culture of philanthropy at Northern Arizona University continues to grow.

"This program reflects NAU’s sense of family,” Kelley says. “We're all Lumberjacks together. By donating, students help other students – their peers – who may not be as fortunate as they are or have the same opportunities that they do.”

According to Kelley, many students believe the university needs only large gifts to make a difference, and they think small donations aren’t enough. However, smaller gifts definitely make an impact, he explains. “A gift of $25 from many students can ultimately generate a substantial scholarship for one student in need.” The Student Philanthropy Council works towards educating students about the importance of giving back.

For Buzzard, receiving the SPC award has supported her as she “pays it forward” to other students and to the community. Thus, giving goes full circle.

Paying it forward

While growing up, Buzzard learned the importance of helping in the community. “My family taught me that whenever you have the opportunity, you should give back,” she says. Currently, Buzzard joins her fellow soccer players in doing just that.In addition to speaking to local grade school students during Red Ribbon Week about the importance of staying drug free, Buzzard also joins her teammates by volunteering at Northland Hospice’s annual run, making blankets for a women’s shelter, assisting at a soccer camp for children, and participating in other community activities.

Her generosity is more than a team requirement; she wants to pay it forward in her career as well. After graduating she hopes to put her engineering knowledge to good use in communities outside of the United States, so she has joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB).

“I’d like to work overseas with EWB,” Buzzard explains. “There is a water resource project in Ghana that helps create clean water supplies for rural villages. I'd like to travel and make a difference with this kind of project.”

Buzzard says joining EWB is just the start of her lifelong goal of helping others in need.

"Giving back is something I've grown up doing and something I will continue to do for the rest of my life,” Buzzard says. “I'll be there to help others whenever I can.”