ABILENE, Texas - Several Abilene Christian University students found a unique way to thank alumnus Elise Mitchell for donating $500,000 to the Journalism and Mass Communication Department.
ACU Journalism and Mass Communication Department Chair Dr. Cheryl Mann Bacon came up with the idea for students to pay it forward in honor of her former student who made the generous donation.
"I told her that she absolutely made my day," Bacon said about Mitchell. "It came at a really pivotal time. It was completely a surprise. I had no idea."
A former ACU student, Mitchell currently is CEO of Mitchell Communications in Fayetteville, Ark. She made the donation to endow the school's student-run public relations agency, Morris & Mitchell. It will also provide funds for other projects in the journalism school.
Mitchell's company did a "Pay it Forward" project in December, and after her monetary gift to ACU, Bacon decided to follow her lead.
Bacon gave three student groups $200 in cash and asked them to help a complete stranger.
"That's life affirming. That's what we're living and breathing for each day. I think that all of us are just reaching, just seeking to live a life worthy of the calling we received and one small way we got to do that was on that Tuesday," said Hailey Thompson, who served as the chair of the "Pay it Forward" project.
"It was great. It was just so much fun to see people ask, ‘really we don't have to do anything to get this?'" said Marcus Bowen, who edited the video for the project.
Students said they are grateful to Mitchell, whose gift gave them the opportunity to give back.
"Thank you. Thank you for your investment in this place," said Bowen.
"My life is changed and so I'm grateful, goodness I'm grateful for all of that," said Thompson.
"Thank you. Just thank you," said Zane Goggans, who was a team leader during the project.