Name: Vanessa Gutierrez
School: FCRH ’18
Major: Computer Science
Favorite hobby: Aerial (think Cirque de Soleil)
You’re donating your birthday, what does this mean?
Donating my birthday means two things: one, that I am turning away from the stereotypical expectation of how I should celebrate my 21st birthday (use your imagination), which honestly isn’t a good fit for me, was stressing me out and wouldn’t have made me happy, and two, that by instead doing something that contributes to a cause that I have worked really hard to see succeed, makes this birthday more fulfilling and memorable than I could have imagined coming from doing anything else. 20 years from now (or even the next day) you may not realize what drinks you had or club you went to, but I’ve honestly been so touched by the support I’ve received that I know I’ll always remember this, and remember it with happiness.
How did you decide to donate your birthday?
I decided to donate my birthday because the work that goes into attempting to organize some large group of friends, accounting for everyone’s schedules and tastes and budgets and potential bailing and etc. etc. etc., to put on some “appropriate” 21st birthday celebration was honestly stressing me out. I want to enjoy my birthday, and I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it by attempting to live up to this idea of how I should spend my birthday. The idea to donate it to Engineers Without Borders (EWB) specifically came to mind when I was thinking about what to do for my birthday (and was stressed out), and, since I’m co-president, when I was thinking about how to raise the necessary funds for our EWB chapter to be able to travel to Uganda by the end of the year (this was also stressing me out). I had seen people donate their birthdays before, and even though I had never seen anyone donate their 21st, I thought why not? Someone told me to do something for my birthday that matters to me, and seeing our project succeed, that matters to me, and since I want to support my chapter, and this is the opposite of what you’d expect for a 21st birthday, I figured this is the once in a lifetime opportunity.
What is your goal?
By the end of September: twenty-one-hundred dollars and twenty-one cents, obviously! The goal for the chapter is around $40,000, which would allow us to travel to our partner villages in Serere District Uganda and construct the second fish farm.
How can the Fordham community help?
The Fordham community can help the fundraiser by donating, and/or sharing it and spreading the word. Sharing the fundraising page or event on Facebook and social media (I don’t have a twitter so definitely need help on that front! I even invented a hashtag -> #twentyfundraising) is really helpful to raise awareness of the fundraiser and the work the chapter is doing. But even just genuinely, personally sharing it with one person who you think might be interested in supporting it could go even further. Fordham students can definitely share this fundraiser, but we are always looking for more students of all majors to become involved with the chapter, and anyone interested in helping beyond donating/sharing can email email@example.com to jump in!
Do you have any other birthday plans?
I am not making any other birthday plans. I am honestly taking all of the energy I would have used to plan something for my 21st birthday and putting it towards my fundraiser and our chapter. The feeling of reaching this goal and seeing the difference it’s going to make in the lives of the families we are working with is just…100% worth it. I have no regrets about doing this for my birthday, and all of seeing the positive reactions, support, and donations for the idea have already made it fulfilling and memorable.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
Anna Sun by Walk the Moon
Rams Deli Plus or Best Deli?
Hmmm honestly, whichever is closer!
Bronx Zoo or Botans?
Zoo. I’ve only been once and it’s on my senior bucket list to go again.
If you had a theme song playing everywhere you went, what would it be?
It changes based on my mood. Riptide by Vance Joy is a solid jam, though.
If you could get a tattoo right now, what would you get?
Oof. I’m not sure. I feel like whatever I get as a tattoo should be meaningful, and I’m not sure I’ve found something I’d want inked on me permanently.
Click this link to donate to Vanessa’s cause: https://support.ewb-usa.org/fundraise?fcid=1090353