Entitled, narcissistic, apathetic. These adjectives have been commonly used to describe the more than 80 million American millennials currently in our workforce, and they are the largest of any group.
Personally, I have generally found them to be driven, passionate, and some of the most caring people I know. There is no better testament to this than a group of five former Johnnie baseball players from the class of 2011. These 27-year-olds are some of the most impressive young me I have come across in my career.
They care. A lot. They care about their friends and families; they care about their communities; and they care about Saint John’s. The only difference between them and previous generations as far as I can tell are the methods they use to turn this compassion into action.
All five, who are just starting their careers, came to Saint John’s as teammates once again in 2013 to make an investment in the new Saint John’s baseball stadium. They decided on giving a seatback, complete with a nameplate marking their generosity.
When I recently asked them why they felt the passion to invest in a Saint John’s athletics facility, a common theme surfaced. Gratitude. They are thankful that baseball brought them together at Saint John’s. They are thankful that Saint John’s provided the experience and education that allowed them to spend so much time together and truly get to know each other. The bond they formed during their four years is forever, they told me. This is something they want to provide for future Johnnies.
“I was honored to be asked to put my name on a nameplate with these four guys,” said Jordan Warren ’11. “I consider it a brotherhood. Knowing that we will have each other’s backs for a lifetime is really special to me.”
“I’m excited to be a part of something that will help recruit future students to Saint John’s. You rarely hear of a Johnnie who regretted his decision to attend,” added Matt Butorac ’11.
Statements like these were abundant in our conversations about their Saint John’s experience.
Studies show that millennials look at philanthropy from a different angle than their parents. Of course they look for causes that match their values, much like previous generations. What I think differentiates millennials is how they focus on supporting organizations that can prove they make a difference in the world. They simply will not invest their resources in a good cause and move on to the next one. They want to be inspired and connected. They want to be involved by volunteering. Twenty percent of adults under 30 volunteered in 2013. That’s up 14 points from 1989. Clearly they want to see their investments at work in the community first hand.
Colleges and universities are adjusting to this new paradigm of transparency by showing the impact of their work and always engaging their constituents. Saint John’s is no different. We know that it takes a different approach to keep millennials engaged with their alma mater. Rest assured, Saint John’s will meet them there.
The next ten years will bring many life changes for these five teammates. Marriages, children and new jobs are only a few. One thing we’re sure of is that they will always have each other for support and friendship. And as long as Saint John’s continues to provide a similar experience for current students, we have to feel great about our future.