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Nicky Shifman Constant ’99 is as good as her name: She’s been a consistent donor to Rivers for 17 years, starting not long before she graduated from college. 

“In my mind, it’s not negotiable,” she says. “Of course, I’m going to give something.”

Giving to Rivers is important to Constant because Rivers gave so much to her. Even back in college, when she made her first donation, she says, “I think I had an understanding that I wouldn’t have been where I was without Rivers, without the really strong foundation and support that I had at Rivers.”

Entering Rivers as a seventh grader, she wasn’t quite so sanguine. “That was a tough year,” she acknowledges now. But, she says, “I wanted to stick it out and work through it, and I did—and I ended up loving it.”

It was the first lesson of many she learned at Rivers—finding the strength and confidence to persevere. In fact, Constant points to resilience as perhaps her most valuable takeaway from Rivers. “I wasn’t a kid who got As in everything; there were classes I struggled through.” But faculty members like former Middle School math teacher Martha Cummings and English teacher Jennie Hutton Jacoby settled for nothing less than her best effort, and she learned to hold herself to a high standard. “With that mindset, I was able to get through college and grad school,” says Constant.

She also credits her parents with some of her desire to donate. Edward Shifman ’61 and Fran Shifman, a life trustee at Rivers, are “pretty philanthropic people. They work hard and give back,” she says. Constant regrets that her gifts to Rivers haven’t always been large—“Unfortunately, during the years of grad school, buying a house, and getting married, I didn’t always have a ton of money”—but their consistency gives them immeasurable value. Thankfully, others in the community share Constant’s constancy: On average, 40 percent of donors to The Rivers Fund have made gifts for five consecutive years or more. Rivers donors are deeply loyal and committed to the students of the future.

And Constant wouldn’t have it any other way. “If you had a good experience and you’re proud of where you went to school, you want to give back.” 


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