MONMOUTH, ILLINOIS (April 17, 2020) — During a time when it's easy to feel separated, the Monmouth College community came together Thursday in remarkable fashion.
This year's annual Scots Day of Giving — which is held for 18 hours and 53 minutes to celebrate the College's founding in 1853 — was much more than a successful fundraiser, as it united Scots Nation through off-the-charts social media engagement. Planned in detail for months, engagement became the focus of Scots Day in the past few weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jen Armstrong, associate director of the Monmouth Fund. "Giving is more than making a financial contribution," said Armstrong. "It's also about sending words of encouragement, sharing your favorite Monmouth moments, and lifting each other up during trying times." More than 55,000 people were reached through the College's main Facebook page, with more than 20,000 video views. Another 25,000 people were reached through the Monmouth College Alumni Facebook page. "That's over 80,000 friends, alumni, parents, and students reached," said Emilee Renwick Caba, director of digital media, who also noted that virtual happy hours were held across the country as Scots Day moved into its later hours. "And that's just on Facebook. We've seen lots of love on Twitter and Instagram, as well. The numbers don't even do justice to all the memories, photos, and videos our alums have been sharing on their pages outside of our social." Along the way, 676 gifts were made to the College, totaling $180,965. "Over the past several days, many members of the Monmouth family have asked how they can help," said Armstrong. "A gift to the Monmouth Fund fulfills our immediate and most urgent needs, especially problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic." Throughout the day, Scots Nation flooded social media with their favorite Monmouth memories. "I have a ton of great memories from Monmouth," wrote Amber Liniger Pakosz ('10). "Monmouth was where I gained confidence in myself. I met friends who became basically family. I met my husband [Mitchell Pakosz ('10)] there. I was in marching band and winds. [English professor] Mark Willhardt was a professor I made sure to have a class with all four years. Really, all my professors cared about their students, and it showed." "I have many favorite memories of Monmouth," wrote Sally Meaker Guth ('80). "My first was the freshman class picnic that was held before upper classes arrived on campus. It was a bonding experience right from the beginning. The other memory I will share is sitting on the hill watching the Fighting Scots play football - the warm fall sun and the loving and loyal friends. Also the bagpipes! I still love hearing them." Ryan Johnson ('02) told the story of how, as a child, he received an old Monmouth baseball jersey — N° 18 — from his aunt, Bobbi Swarts Pio ('92). When the future M Club Hall of Famer joined the Fighting Scots baseball team, he was given N° 18. "My oldest son's middle name is Graham after the residence hall that I lived in for three years," said Johnson. "That's also where his mom [Lisa Seemann Johnson ('02)] and I met." Chris Bastean ('06) chose the culminating experience of his four years on campus as his favorite memory. "Having [longtime admission counselor] Peter Pitts shake my hand at graduation and telling me 'Congratulations and I'm proud of you!'" he wrote. Scots Nation was also asked: If you could pick one professor to keep you company right now, who would it be, and why? Dozens of faculty members were named. "[Political science] Professor Farhat Haq, hands down," replied Kristin Hallam Wilson ('92). "She was so passionate about her classes and I could listen to her all day. She brought an interesting perspective to her classes and I loved it when she got excited. There was such joy and passion — you knew she loved what she was doing." Art major Kassi Heald-Schmelzer ('10) chose one of her art professors, Stacy Lotz. "She is the most amazing role model and caring person I know at Monmouth College," she wrote. "And she makes a pretty good therapist when needed, too. Just enough care and 'shut up and do it' to keep you moving through life. Plus, we always have plenty to talk about."