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A Campaign Launch for the Ages

The United Nations proves to be the perfect setting for SYA’s historic comprehensive capital campaign kickoff.

“We are all ambassadors” was the message heard loud and clear by over 200 SYA alumni, family members and friends who gathered to celebrate the launch of The Campaign for SYA at the United Nations headquarters on Thursday, May 16. With the moonlit East River as a backdrop, U.S. Ambassadors Jess Baily FR’77 and David McKean FR’74 FR’11P and moderator Allison Temple Bacon ES’81 hosted a forum on the impact that SYA has had on their lives, and the important role that SYA continues to play in preparing young people for the real world.

Fresh from his four-year tenure as U.S. Ambassador to North Macedonia, Ambassador Baily credits SYA France for his love of learning languages. “The way I learned French in Rennes gave me a confidence in learning the language and the ability to go make mistakes,” he said. “It wasn’t about getting the grammar right.” Today, he is fluent in French, Turkish and Thai.

Ambassador McKean, who served in Luxembourg from 2016 to 2017, touted the sense of independence that an SYA experience offers. “You just learn to take what comes at you when you’re in a situation. You learn to deal with things because not everything is going to go your way. You (gain) the confidence to take a risk.”

SYA Board Chair Kirk Davenport II FR’77 FR’11P unveiled the campaign’s $10,501,523 progress toward an ambitious $18 million goal, and announced a groundbreaking $3 million campaign commitment by Malú and Carlos Alvarez FR’00P – the largest single gift in SYA history! With a $2 million outright gift, they have established the Malú and Carlos Alvarez Global Scholars Fund, a permanent endowed fund for financial aid.  (Read more about the Alvarez family’s generosity here.) “Our mission is to produce citizens of the world,” said Davenport, “and I feel it’s never been more important than it is right now.” He also recognized the hard work of Campaign Co-chairs James Broderick FR’71 and Alexandra Alger FR’79, CN’12P and members of the Campaign Cabinet.

President Tom Hassan provided the rationale for this first-ever comprehensive capital campaign, which will focus on four critical initiatives — the SYA Fund, student aid, faculty support and curricular innovation — and will seek the support of the entire SYA community over the course of the next two years. “This campaign is about people and programs,” he said. “We’re working from such a strong foundation and we want to ensure that SYA remains the gold standard among travel abroad programs.”

The campaign team will be traveling throughout the country and abroad in the coming year to share campaign highlights across the SYA alumni community. The Campaign for SYA is set to run through June 30, 2021.

View photos from this historic launch event.