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Bridge-builder profile: Dana Petker

Dana Petker knows first-hand the difference donors make to the financial health of post-secondary institutions. For five years, she worked as the Director of Financial Aid at Columbia Bible College (CBC).

As part of her work, Petker was responsible for working with a committee to award funding to students.

“I saw that side of a donor base and the meaningful impact that made on students,” says Pekter. “Seeing that... really made an impact on my views on financial giving.”

Working at CMU also influenced Petker’s views on giving.

In 2008, shortly after graduating from the university with her BA in Biblical and Theological Studies, she was hired as the Coordinator of Commuter, International, and Disability Services in the Student Life department.

As a result, Petker has had a first-hand view of how CMU and CBC are run, and knows that it takes donations to keep both institutions going.

The donor base that supports these schools is growing older, Petker adds, and her generation will have to step up to the plate if it wants to see these schools flourish for future students.

“Our generation is not big on staying connected to the schools we graduated from—it’s not built into us the way it was in the previous generation, and certainly not in the way it is in US culture,” Petker says. “So as the donor base ages, institutions are facing a crunch.”

Petker knows when some people graduate, they are hesitant to give back because they have just given the university thousands of dollars in tuition.

“They say, ‘They’re not getting another dime from me,’ but they don’t realize that without donor support, it would have cost them a lot more dimes to get that education.”

Because Petker believes it’s important to support the schools she graduated from, she bought a tile in support of the CONNECT Campaign to fund the construction of Marpeck Commons.

When she found out about this campaign, she saw it as a unique opportunity to leave a mark on a university that greatly impacted her.

Usually it’s only people who donate hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars who get to have their name on the building. This was a way for Petker’s name to be attached to Marpeck Commons without having to make a six- or seven-figure donation.

“It’s not that we need recognition in any way, but sometimes it’s nice to put your name to something,” she says. “It’s a legacy that will stand for years to come.”

You can make a difference in the life of CMU for less than $14 a month. Find out how you can become a Bridge Builder and support CMU's new Library, Learning Commons and Bridge by going here and clicking on "Alumni: Buy a Tile."