Kindred Souls | Macaulay Honors College

08/10/2017

Macaulay Honors College recently received an unexpected gift from a couple who (seemingly) had no connection to the school. David Ochoa and Bob Donohue are not Macaulay or CUNY alumni, they don’t have children attending the college, they’re not major philanthropists. And yet they chose to include Macaulay in their estate plan.

“It’s very unusual for Macaulay to receive a donation like this,” says Macaulay’s Director of Individual Giving Stephanie Straffi. “We were thrilled of course when they first let us know of their interest–and very curious.” As with any donation, there is a backstory to this gift.

Once upon a time at a tag sale

Bob and David met Caitlin, an incoming member of the Macaulay Class of 2021, and her mother in October 2016 at a neighborhood tag sale. They bonded over politics, community issues and a blog that they all enjoyed reading.

As the two families grew closer, Bob and David developed a relationship with Caitlin, then a high school senior, and an interest in her education.

“Her personality, intelligence, and sense of humor made me think of how, as native New Yorkers, there is a sensibility that comes from being a part of the city’s cultural fabric,” explains David. “We were impressed by the strength of the family’s identity and their connection to this city’s cultural and higher education institutions.”

An exciting future

The following spring, Caitlin received the exciting news that she had been accepted to Macaulay, and her friends and family happily anticipated the next chapter in her life.

Through Caitlin’s experience, Bob and David learned about Macaulay and the benefits offered to all of its students.  The more they discovered about the college, the more they felt committed to supporting her by giving to the college she would attend. Three features particularly sparked their interest: The personalized guidance provided by Macaulay advisors; the potential for Caitlin to graduate with no debt; and the honors curriculum and experiential educational opportunities that Caitlin would have access to as a Macaulay student.

An inspired gift

When Bob and David recently updated their estate plan, their connection to an inspiring student inspired a generous decision to include Macaulay. It was a comfort to know that their donation would benefit both a beloved individual and an institution dedicated to developing a new generation of leaders who will take on the challenges facing New York and the world beyond.

“New York City has been good to me,” explains David. “A gift is my way of returning something to a New York institution that has the potential to make more good citizens in the city, state, country, the world. Macaulay alumni and students have already made positive contributions to the city. I mean, talk about higher education!”

For more information please contact Stephanie Straffi, Director of Individual Giving.