In the fall of 1998, David Greig ’02 and Sarah O’Keefe ’02 met in the common room on the first floor of North Hall on the first day of orientation. He came to Amherst in search of academic freedom, opportunities for extracurriculars, and engaged faculty. She was looking for a small school with great academics, a beautiful campus, and a competitive Division III athletics program where she could play more than one sport. “Amherst provided all of that and more,” Sarah said.
David and Sarah married in 2007 and now have three children aged 8, 5, and 2. He is a senior consultant at Graham-Pelton Consulting, which supports leading nonprofits with fundraising and management. She runs a photography business and teaches elementary school students about architecture and historic preservation.
At Amherst, both thrived with the support of a devoted faculty and an open curriculum. “The professors are so dedicated,” said Sarah, who majored in fine art/art history and was on the women’s soccer and ice hockey teams. “They would turn up on the sideline of the soccer field or in the stands at the rink. They provided help and guidance whenever needed. I’ve kept in touch with many of my professors and love seeing them whenever we are back on campus.”
David, a Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought major who played football and captained the men’s lacrosse team, appreciated the classic liberal arts experience with no core requirements. “The College trusts the students it admits to challenge themselves and pursue their interests without mandating classes in order to graduate,” he said. “What I found is that students took it upon themselves to explore—I know I did. If I was required to take classes in certain disciplines, I would have only done those and stayed inside my lanes when picking electives.”
While they connected to their faculty, their studies, and each other at Amherst, they also felt a strong kinship with earlier generations of alumni. One of David’s favorite moments happened on the football field: “When I was a sophomore, the football team beat Williams for the first time in 14 years. After the game, alums from the 80’s and 90’s came up to us on the field and were so happy and proud for us. I played such a small part in that game, but the atmosphere was incredible and the sense of community across generations was amazing to be a part of.”
Sarah delved into an exploration of the War Memorial and the Amherst alumni it honors. “During my final semester on campus, I took a seminar entitled “Making Memorials” with Professors Carol Clark and Heidi Gilpin. The 9-11 tragedy happened during the previous semester, so it was a poignant time to wrestle with the idea of how to use memorials and landscape architecture to preserve memory and honor those who have died,” she said. “For my final research paper, I studied the War Memorial on campus. It was fascinating to dig into the history of a memorial that I had walked past almost every day for four years. I learned so much about its thoughtful design and the alumni who it memorializes.”
Both David and Sarah feel a deep sense of loyalty to Amherst. All that they found here—transformative academics, athletics, community, connection—has inspired them to give back by naming the College as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy.
“I gained so much from Amherst in my four years. I think it’s important to give back and show my gratitude,” said Sarah. “David and I have always joked that if Amherst had a graduate school, we would have applied in a heartbeat, just to extend our time on campus as long as possible. If our giving can provide an equally amazing college experience to any other students, it's worth it.”