For young alumni, the GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Circle represents donors who have given $5,000 or more to Rose-Hulman within their first 10 years after graduation. Sarah Sanborn, a 2004 alumna and a senior engineer at Procter & Gamble, achieved that vaunted level seven years after receiving her diploma.
"When I was a student, I pulled together the tuition every way I could—outside scholarships, help from my parents, student loans, and financial aid," she says. And, then, she was chosen to receive a competitive $1,000 Distinguished Alumni Scholarship—one of four given each year to honor a special alumnus. Her scholarship was in honor of Professor Eric Mooney.
"Even $1,000 made a big difference to me and my family," she adds. "I decided right then and there that I would give $500-to be matched by P&G-every year, so that I could help a student in the same way. It's something I'll do at whatever level I can afford from now on."
But to Sanborn, the GOLD Circle membership is just one of many things she enjoys about being a connected alumna. She considers her investment of time as important as her monetary contributions.
"I really enjoyed my experience as a student, and it's a pleasure to stay active as an alum," says Sanborn, who redefines the term "active." She participates in the Rose Alumni Recruiting Engineers (RARE) program, recruits Rose-Hulman students for P&G's internship program and full-time positions, and co-hosts Summer Send Off parties for Cincinnati-area high school graduates preparing to enter Rose-Hulman. She also returns to campus frequently as part of the Young Alumni Council.
"I like to stay busy," she says, in a characteristic understated fashion. Sanborn took her first of several internships with P&G as a freshman, while also being involved in volleyball, softball and Chi Omega. She started on her master's degree in biomedical engineering even before completing coursework for her bachelor's degree in chemical engineering. Early on, she got involved with the Student Alumni Association as a volunteer, helping out at homecoming and other major campus events that serve as a bridge between students and alumni.
Sanborn has worked her way up through several positions within P&G's research and development organization. Her "baby" has been Pampers diaper with Dry Max, its first high-performance diaper-designed to be better for the baby and the environment.
"I led product development for this project globally," says Sanborn, explaining that she interacts with Western Europe and Asia, requiring international travel and electronic communications at all hours. She jokes that sometimes she even conducts "research" in her off-hours, dragging her friends down the diaper aisles of grocery stores to see the product on the shelves.
In addition to her long professional hours, Sanborn plays club volleyball and runs regularly. In fact, she competes in the Indianapolis Mini Marathon every year with sorority sisters Amy Haymaker ('03) and Heidi (Brackmann) Davidson ('03). She stays in touch with fellow alumni near Cincinnati through various Rose-Hulman functions and urges fellow young alumni to do the same.
Sanborn is very aware of the heavy time and financial obligations among the under-40 group who are in hard-charging careers, starting families and buying first homes. Many, like Sanborn herself, are still paying off student loans.
"It's not the amount so much as the willingness to step forward and give to whatever extent you can," she says. "That expression of support—shown by the percentage of alumni giving—makes a big difference when Rose-Hulman is being evaluated from the outside. I know how much my fellow students loved Rose-Hulman and I want the world to know it, too."