The popular social media platform, Instagram, is made for sharing photos and videos. Recently, one Keuka College alumnus used Instagram to help raise money—and awareness—for his alma mater.
Dr. Brandon Barile ’05 assistant vice president for Campus Life and dean of Student Engagement and Conduct at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, recently visited the Keuka College campus with his partner and his daughter, Sophia Barile-Swain, 8.
“I visit Keuka College with my partner and daughter almost every summer, and they oblige as I show them where I lived, where I sat in my favorite class, where I worked,” says Brandon. “It’s so fun to share memories, particularly with my daughter, who is just starting to get a grasp of what college means.”
Along the tour Brandon was taking pictures, and as he walked through Dahlstrom Student Center, the memories of his time spent as a resident assistant, a student worker, where his mailbox was, and of his mentor, Tracy McFarland, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, came flooding back.
“But, I was struck by how similar the building looked, and the potential of what it could be,” says Brandon. “I began thinking about how I try to give back to Keuka College each year for residential or diversity programming, and how I’d try to direct my annual gift to the Student Center Renovation project.”
As he was posting his photos to Instagram, he encouraged people to “like” the photos because he wanted others to see how important Keuka College is to him.
Brandon posted this caption on his Instagram account: “As a #firstgen college student, without a generous tuition scholarship, I would not have been able to attend. So, help me give back! For every like by 8/14, I’ll donate $2 (maximum $1,000!) to #KeukaCollege.”
"It's not every day we see self-motivated alumni generating their own crowdfunding campaigns, so this really stood out," says Brie Deacon-Chupalio '06, M'15, associate director of annual giving. "We just love what Brandon's message conveys: a proud first-generation Keuka College graduate with a genuine interest in sharing his story, and giving back in an impactful way. It's heart-warming, inspiring, and reminds us why we do what we do."
Brandon’s post garnered 467 likes and, true to his word, he donated $934 to the College. By conducting his Instagram campaign, Brandon’s goal was to help a student who never thought they could afford to go college obtain a scholarship, just like he did.
“I realize I had an amazing opportunity as a recipient of the GOALS scholarship which, at the time, paid half the cost of my tuition each semester,” says Brandon. “In order for scholarships like that to exist, someone has to pay it forward.”
When donating to a campaign like the student center renovation, Brandon says, you’re investing in the community.
“That investment means future students can benefit from an amazing student center without needing their tuition and fees to go up to pay for it—a donation helps keep the cost of college attainable. And, it shows current students there is a community of people that care about the College’s future.”
“While I, of course, hope that students gain leadership experience and ace their tests, I also hope they take away the feeling of being ready,” he says. “They are ready to rise up, meet a challenge, overcome a failure, and try over and over until they succeed.”
And it is remembering those feelings, those memories, friendships, and shared experiences that Brandon hopes current students—and alumni—look back on when they think of Keuka College.
“There are classes, homework assignments, jobs, etc.,” says Brandon. “But remember the feeling associated with each—that feelingis the memory you’ll take with you 5, 10, or 15 years post-graduation. I remember feeling connected and laughing at dinner each night with friends. I remember feeling optimistic and encouraged about my future career because I had an amazing mentor who helped me feel prepared.”
Brandon also remembers being supported and challenged by faculty like Amanda Harris, former associate professor of organizational communication and English, Dr. Anne Weed, professor of English, and the late Dr. Sander Diamond, professor of history, who cared for him not just as a student, he says, but like a member of their family.
And that sense of family is something Brandon knows Sophia will find when she enrolls at the College, as a member of the Class of 2032.
“Words can’t really explain this place and the transformative experience it provided me,” says Brandon. “That is what Keuka College has to offer—an unparalleled sense of togethernessIt showed me friendship (many lifelong!) and mentorship. It helped me stand out and become a leader. It showed me my future career path. It allowed me to develop personal relationships with faculty who cared about my success. As my daughter, partner, and I walked around the campus, and hearing her say ‘maybe I’ll come here!’ warmed my heart.”