Why We Give
UWC-USA is grateful for the generous support of our many donors. Many alumni have provided significant contributions because of the impact UWC-USA has had in their lives. Read below to hear their stories, and learn how their UWC-USA experience has impacted the lives of others.
Thomas Schwingeler ’86
Thomas Schwingeler '86 is a pragmatic man who likes to plan ahead. For example, he already has a will prepared—perhaps not typical for a guy in his late 40s who spends his free time fly-fishing, but a practical step for someone who likes to have his affairs in place.
In crafting his will, Thomas made sure his family would be taken care of, but he felt there was room for more beneficiaries. And so he decided to include UWC-USA.
“Being away from home, on your own, in such a beautiful physical setting with people from different backgrounds and similar enthusiasm and interests was perfect,” he says about his UWC-USA days. “I feel those two years were the best years of my life.”
An outdoor enthusiast, Thomas found his place in the Wilderness Program. “It appealed to me because it gave me the opportunity to gain confidence and learn my limits, all in stunning natural settings.,” he says. “It was character-forming and enriching.”
Thomas credits UWC-USA with giving him the opportunities and experiences that have shaped his adult life. Indeed, the combination of fond memories and the life-long impact of his UWC-USA experience were key factors in his decision to make a planned gift. “UWC-USA changed my life,” Thomas says simply.
Morgante Pell ’12
While still a student at UWC-USA, Morgante Pell ’12 did something bold: He issued an Annual Fund challenge to his peers. By encouraging his classmates to pay it forward early in their lives, Morgante helped plant the seeds of lifelong giving.
The genesis of his class challenge was an inspiring encounter in Montezuma. “I was on Student Council and met [board member] Sebastien de Halleux ’96, who encouraged me to get involved with giving back by thinking of my scholarship as more of a zero-interest loan,” Morgante says.
Morgante’s challenge was successful: Fifty-five members of the class of 2012 gave to the Annual Fund, a very high level of giving for a class in their second year. Their achievement proved that giving early in life fosters enduring giving habits; in 2013, the class of 2012’s class participation rate for the Annual Fund was higher than more than half of all UWC-USA’s graduating classes. Morgante’s passion for giving back doesn’t end at traditional philanthropy. His life goal, he says, is to integrate UWC-USA values with technology to make positive change. “Attending UWC is a transformational experience—allowing one to develop a vision for life and build the skills to fulfill it,” he explains.
Helenty Homans’ involvement with UWC-USA was inspired in part by a trip to the Holy Land where she and her granddaughter witnessed the stark and inhumane conditions created by the Arab-Israeli conflict. In response, Helenty established an endowed scholarship in 2007 for the perpetual support of young people from both Israel and Palestine to attend UWC-USA. Every two years, one new student from Israel and one new student from Palestine arrive in Montezuma as Helenty Homans Scholars.
Helenty sees tremendous value in bringing together young people who have grown up on opposite sides of the conflict. On a recent personal visit to her home near Santa Fe, one of the scholars, a young Palestinian woman, described how she handled an interaction with an Israeli student who had talked about the conflict with Palestinians in highly aggressive terms. After some friction, the Palestinian student and the Israeli student were able to discuss the conflict constructively and find some common ground. “That gives me hope,” Helenty says. “The idea of the United World College is important: training young people from all over the world to be new leaders, allowing them to listen and get to know each other, helping them to talk to each other. I see the world falling apart right now, but these young people are our potential and the world’s next generation."