Young Alums Believe 'Generosity Is a Spiritual Practice'

Ever since they met as freshmen, Craig Scanlon and Krista Kutz have shared common interests and a desire to make a difference—beginning with their Xavier education.

They both studied theology at Xavier, in addition to their other majors—political science for him and Spanish for her. They both studied abroad and went on retreats and Alternative Breaks trips. They both became leaders—he as Student Government Association president, she as a Service Fellow.

They also developed a shared sense of gratitude for their Xavier experiences revolving around the scholarships and donations of others that made it all possible.

So it’s no wonder that now, after graduating in 2009, moving to Chicago and getting married in 2012, they are unified in their commitment to share their fortunes by giving back to Xavier in multiple ways.

After all, their shared Xavier experience is so much a part of their lives that they want to make it possible for new students to experience the same life-changing connections that they did.

 I have a new relationship with Xavier now. I’m not the undergrad consumer anymore. I am an alum supporter and I want to keep that going.

The ties to Xavier are unmistakable. While Scanlon transitioned into education in Chicago, his greatest inspiration was the theology class he took from retired theology professor Paul Knitter, who told him that adding a theology major would give him more options for life after graduation. He was right.

“He’s the reason I became a theology major,” Scanlon says. “I got hooked through his class. I think I use both my majors now.”

After two years teaching with Teach for America and four years at a Catholic School while also earning master’s degrees in teaching and educational leadership, Scanlon was hired as the principal at St. Joan of Arc Catholic school in Evanston, Ill. He just completed his first year and says he uses both his political science and theology knowledge every day.

Kutz, meanwhile, earned a Master of Divinity at the University of Chicago, worked at Old St. Patrick’s Catholic Church downtown, and now works at The Night Ministry, a Chicago non-profit serving homeless youth and adults.

“I fell in love with the idea of serving people,” she says.

As the individual giving coordinator, Kutz raises funds and develops volunteers for the Night Ministry. Her motivation began at Xavier, she says, where her Service Fellows program and her theology studies planted the seed for her desire to serve.

“Part of my Xavier formation was thinking about my role in making the world a better place and what can I do every day that impacts the world,” she says.

“We feel very fortunate. He leads a school and I get to work on the cutting edge of service work, and we feel very blessed to be able to live out our values through our work. I feel it reflects back on the things we did at Xavier.”

After graduating, both supported Xavier through annual donations. Since getting married, they began making contributions together and are now giving at 1831 Society levels for young alumni. They make monthly donations of $40, which they say makes it easier by spreading it out over the whole year.

But they do more than give money. Scanlon also serves as an enrollment ambassador, helping recruit students to Xavier. And this spring, Kutz stepped up her involvement by joining the board of the Center for Faith and Justice. They now target their monthly donation to the Center.

“She’s big about giving back,” Scanlon says. “We even looked at organizations that match up with Catholic social teaching and give to different organizations like the Alliance for the Great Lakes and our church.”

Kutz says it feels good to give back, especially now that she and Craig have full-time jobs and a steady income. They build charitable giving into their budget, and Xavier is a top priority.

“I have a new relationship with Xavier now. I’m not the undergrad consumer anymore. I am an alum supporter and I want to keep that going,” she says. “My Xavier education was fully funded by Xavier scholarships made possible by alumni who came before me, and I want that to keep happening for undergraduates.”

Generosity, she says, is a spiritual practice for them.

“If we can do it, anybody can do it,” she says. “I just believe that everything is a gift and that means it’s not all mine to have to myself. It’s an attitude of generosity and thanksgiving, and it feels good to be part of a community and keep it going.”

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