Whether an active member or just a passerby of the multitude of T-shirts, Student Alumni Association (SAA) has become a prominent part of the lives of Tech students. It is the liaison between the present and the past, as well as one of the fastest-growing organizations on campus.

According to Nathan Pearson, second-year BA and SAA’s Marketing Chair, this year SAA is most proud of its “Gift to Tech.”

Gift to Tech is an annual monetary gift from students (where half of the SAA annual $10 dues come from), and a generous alumni donor matches the contribution.

This year’s matching donor happens to be Walt Ehmer (IE ’89), the CEO of Waffle House.

“Gift to Tech aims to select projects that benefit a large portion of Georgia Tech’s campus. We want the students to get excited about the projects and how the projects can better their campus,” explained Rebecca Norton, the Vice President of Philanthropy.

SAA looks for projects that will take advantage of the donation from SAA by making a huge impact on Tech.

The previous three recipients of this gift have used the funds to support campus recycling, refurbish the beloved Ramblin’ Wreck and purchase a new trailer for the marching band.

“Each year, nominations are accepted, and students can vote online for the cause that they feel most passionate about. This year, the nominations include Buzzinga!, Bike Infrastructure & Safety, Campus Kitchens, Campus Safety, an Outdoor Concert Series, Solar-Powered Electricity Stands and Tradition Plaques,” Pearson said.

Students can vote online until March 14. The top three nominations will be announced on March 24, after which voting will reopen for SAA members until April 4.

Students who feel tired of simply casting a vote can get more involved, as SAA sponsors Dinner Jackets every couple of weeks.

“[In the Dinner Jackets program], alumni host dinner for approximately six-to-ten students, either in their own home or at a restaurant,” Pearson said. “SAA will e-mail members when an alumnus of their major or career path is hosting a dinner, so it is definitely major-specific and tailored to students’ individual interests.”

SAA hopes to offer a free meal, knowledgeable advice and genuine concern and guidance to the Tech students involved in their Dinner Jackets program.

Lastly, SAA has recently partnered with the Tech Women’s Basketball team. At the Feb. 23 game against Maryland, SAA will be hosting a networking event.

During the game, members can sit in the box with Mentor Jackets mentors, as well as other alumni, and enjoy the game, share some popcorn and form lasting relationships.

According to Pearson, this is a “unique opportunity to perfect networking skills in a more relaxed environment.”

SAA hopes to create more opportunities this semester for its members and to continue to grow its member base.

“This year, our Association grew to 3,850 members. That’s up from the 3,500 members last year. Students know that SAA is an organization that is beneficial to lifetime success and for giving back to Georgia Tech,” Pearson said.