Bennett Wilson '96 and Jenn Wilson '96

Bennett and Jenn Wilson
For Bennett and Jenn Wilson, both class of ‘96, 2021 was a milestone year: their 20th wedding anniversary and their 25th reunion. They wanted to do something special for Amherst—something that would galvanize their classmates and support the college they love. Amherst is where they met, after all: she an art history major, he an English major, and both enthusiastic rugby players. “Our paths crossed repeatedly,” said Bennett. “Orientation trip before school, art history class, rugby socials. We started dating our freshman year and have been together ever since.”

So, they made a gift to the Amherst Fund that was used to create two giving challenges. One was specific to the Class of 1996 and it was the catalyst for reaching the class’s highest alumni participation rate since its 20th Reunion—a feat especially impressive during a year when Reunion was conducted entirely on Zoom. The second challenge, open to the entire alumni population, matched all gifts of $1,821 or more with an additional $1,000. In less than two weeks, it helped to generate 181 gifts of $1,821 or more, expanding membership in Amherst’s 1821 Society.

The momentum inspired by Bennett and Jenn’s generosity earned the Class of 1996 a prize—the Class of 1956 Trophy for highest participation among classes 16-25 years out. It also contributed to a banner year for the Amherst Fund, which raised a record $11,904,056 from 9,976 alumni donors and 829 families.

A quarter-century after they graduated from Amherst, Bennett is a veterinarian with his own practice in South Portland, Maine, and Jenn works at L.L. Bean. They consider Amherst a key part of the foundation on which they’ve built their lives. Their gift this year, which sparked even more giving, helped to keep the College strong for current and future students. “Amherst is our school,” said Bennett. “It has given us so much: our friends, our connections, our experiences. This is a way of saying thank you.”