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Around this time every year a new group of students begins to prepare themselves to bid farewell to long days of classes and tedious homework assignments and make the shift to post grad life. The soon to be graduates of the UT Computer Science department have left their mark on the school in many ways. And now, through a special program called Project Giving Tree, these students can continue to leave their mark for years and years to come.

Project Giving Tree is a program developed by the UTCS department and run by a group of senior CS students with the goal of bringing the entire graduating class together. By creating a sense of community, the program hopes to strengthen the connection that these seniors feel towards the school and department.

Along with building strong connections while on the forty acres, the campaign also strives to get these soon-to-be alumni to donate to create that same sense of community for students in the department for years to come.

In it’s second year of campaigning, the group plans to launch this week with their sights set high. Senior Sai Avala is a co-organizer along with Keerthana Kumar and six other CS seniors.  He says that having something like Project Giving Tree is essential for both past and present students.

“We’ve thrown events like trivia and pizza nights, have field days and do a final senior banquet to get people involved and one last chance for seniors to reflect on themselves,” Avala said. “Through this we hope to increase alumni relations and increase awareness of how important it is to give back to the department through donations.”

Last year was the campaign’s initial launch. Student organizers and Dr. Bruce Porter, chair of the UTCS department, sat down and decided that the money raised through Project Giving Tree should be spent in areas that will help undergrads.

When you donate through Project Giving Tree your money will go towards projects like getting adjunct professors to teach new upper division specialty electives. Additionally, if you give a gift of $200 or more, your name will be etched in the GDC stairwell.

The campaign committee hopes to gain momentum within these last few weeks of school with their events to get students excited and inspired to give back. The big event on their agenda is the senior banquet to be held on April 28. All UTCS seniors are invited to night of socializing, raffle prizes (maybe even an Xbox One), and tips on how to give back to the department.

The committee hopes that through the events and tabling they do that they will be able to bring more awareness and shed light on a fundraiser that can benefit the department for many years to come.

“We aren’t necessarily trying to get students to give back right now. Now is great but that’s not our main goal,” Avala said. “Through this campaign we hope that we can create the community and inspire these students to give back throughout their lifetime. It may be now, it may be five years down the line or maybe longer but we want to get them to give back eventually.”

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