If you ask Elena Paul '85 why she loves Davidson College, she talks about the institution's commitment to ideas and service—two things that have followed her throughout her life and her career. She appreciates that Davidson is a hopeful place that believes in the potential of human capital. This appreciation led her to choose the college as a beneficiary of her estate.
"It's kind of fun to think about what people and places will benefit from your assets when you don't need them anymore," said Paul, who lives in New York City. "Davidson values service, integrity and potential, and if I think about what I want the symbol of my life to be, financially, this is the perfect fit. I feel so confident in the institutional culture, and I know that there are many ways the money could be used, but if it's for Davidson, any use is totally fine with me."
Paul, who works as the director of legal and business affairs for the Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation, Inc., doesn't see estate planning as a task involved with planning one's death; rather, it's about considering your ultimate legacy in the world.
"The exciting thing about planned giving is that I'm thinking about the big picture and how my path can lead me to make a difference of some kind," she said. "It sort of reminds me of college when I was constantly thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. Estate planning challenges me to contemplate what I want the gesture of my life to mean, and it feels so natural to give to the place that has always encouraged me to think big."
Paul says she's the ultimate liberal arts student. She works in the arts, she's an attorney, and she finds neuroscience fascinating. Much like her Davidson experience, she has never forced herself to choose a single path or area of interest.
"I love that people come to this unbelievable place where they can be in a culture that aims to figure out the best thing each person can contribute," Paul said. "Professors help pull out students' greatest potential, and it's not just a one-way street. It's an experience that begins a lifetime of interactive connectivity."