Sweetheart Window campaign celebrates unions forged at Maryville College
From Maryville College
Jason and Chrissy Brooks are the face of the American Dream: successful and fulfilling careers, two healthy children and a desire to give back.
The Maryville College graduates, from the classes of 1997 and 1999 respectively, have found a way to celebrate their collegiate years.
The college’s reputation for high academic standards and giving graduates a competitive edge in their professional lives is well documented, but what may not be as widely known is its role in introducing many students to their future spouses that have resulted in long successful marriages.
Many graduates have been married 50 plus years, but younger alumni continue to follow in their footsteps. As Chrissy and Jason discovered, couples now have an opportunity to commemorate their union and thank Maryville College at the same time through the “Sweetheart Window” fund-raising effort. The campaign is part of an overall project to renovate the interior of Anderson Hall, the college’s oldest building.
Jason Brooks came to Maryville College from Claiborne County. Chrissy Newton enrolled after graduating from Maryville High School. They met through friends and started dating Chrissy’s senior year.
They said they knew the “Sweetheart Window” campaign was a perfect way to honor their alma mater and demonstrate their ongoing affection for a school that has given them so much.
“Simply put, I just love this place,” Jason said of his commitment. “There are needs the college has.” His wife agrees about the bond they’ve created with the college. They are still involved in campus activities, returning for almost all home football games (Jason played for the Fighting Scots), and Chrissy has continued her musical foundation by playing violin in the Orchestra at Maryville College, a college and community ensemble. Jason was an assistant coach for the college’s football team five years after graduating. Diana Canacaris, the college’s director of stewardship, said that couples who pledge to donate $10,000 between now and May 31, 2014, can choose a window in Anderson Hall. A plaque with interlocking hearts along with their names and wedding year will be placed in the selected windowsill.
Chrissy’s gift to the college comes from a deep-seated desire to give back, stemming from her days as a recipient of the Dean’s Scholarship, which she received her sophomore, junior and senior years. Scholarship recipients at Maryville College are invited to an annual luncheon where they have the opportunity to meet the donors who sponsored their scholarship, and Chrissy attended.
“I remember sitting at the luncheon thinking ‘I hope I’m in a position to do something like that someday,’ ” she recalled recently while watching their children — Mary James, 4, named after the college, and Hall, who turned 1 last November — explore the Willard House.
The Brooks, who will celebrate their 10-year anniversary this August, want to encourage other alums, particularly those in the younger generations, who have met and married their college sweethearts to consider supporting the campaign.
“We always hoped we would be able to give back. We’ve been blessed in recent years,” Chrissy said. “We’d like to be a peer leader for our own group of friends. We’d like to set an example for our age group.”
The College helped set Jason and Chrissy on the journey they now enjoy, both professionally and personally. Chrissy, senior director of national accounts for DeRoyal, a medical manufacturing firm, said her career is a direct result of her time at Maryville College. She presented her senior thesis, an economic impact study for an interfaith clinic in Knoxville, to the board of directors of the four involved hospitals, and a representative of DeRoyal happened to be there. She started with the company six weeks after graduation.
Although the impact on Jason’s career was not quite as direct, the college taught him how to be successful and led him to three other degrees, including an MBA.
Jason is the president and CEO of Lamar Dunn and Associates Engineering, based in Knoxville.
“Maryville College pushed me beyond what was comfortable,” said Jason, who is the first in his family to graduate from college. Later, Jason’s sister and first cousin also attended the College.
A natural choice
Jason, who is a volunteer football coach for Alcoa High School, said he and his wife are civic minded, and contributing to Maryville College was a natural choice. They’ve started to talk to some of their friends about contributing to the project.
Anderson Hall, built in 1870 and oldest of the College’s 12 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, has a multitude of windows to choose from: five in the Bell Tower, 43 on the first and second floors, and 32 (out of 43 still available) on the third floor.
The “Sweetheart Window” campaign is part of the $1 Million Alumni Class Challenge for Anderson Hall that was launched a year ago. That campaign, which will go toward interior renovations, has reached almost 70 percent of its goal. The total cost for the interior renovation is estimated to be $6.8 million. To date, the college has raised $4.5 million in gifts and pledges.
“We’re bringing the building up to the 21st Century,” Canacaris said. For the first time, the building will have central heat and air conditioning and an elevator.
This story was written by Bonny Millard, a freelance writer for the Office of Communications.