Nate Sahn ’93 Believes in Cushing and in Giving Back

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with a very special alumnus who has spent most of the past 20 years, since graduating, as a strong Cushing advocate and supporter. Nate Sahn ’93 has served on the Board of Trustees and is now a member of the recently formed Headmaster’s Advisory Council. In addition to his volunteer roles at Cushing, Nate has been a consistent donor and continues to work with Cushing to encourage participation from other alumni.

Not familiar with northeast independent schools, Nate came to Cushing as a reluctant teenager, at the urging of his parents. Growing up in the Detroit suburbs, his academic career prior to Cushing showed a lack of motivation and interest in the learning process. Nate says that when he first visited Cushing, a wonderful tour guide helped him feel at home in five minutes.

Becoming acclimated was easy for Nate and the relationships he made with teachers reinforced his desire to be a successful student. Rich Henry was Nate’s advisor and they are still in touch, 20 years later. With the help of Henry and others, Nate learned how to write and how to study. “I started doing things on my own for the first time,” he says. Nate spent many hours talking with faculty and building lifelong relationships. “There were no artificial barriers between adults and students,” Nate says.

“Technology was just emerging when I was at Cushing and this combined with the exposure to a diverse environment, socio-economic differences, ethnicities, and well-rounded individuals totally prepared me for college. The transition was a breeze! All of the typical adjustment issues were behind me,” Nate recalls. “Cushing taught me that the help is usually there, but you have to be proactive about it. Take the tools that are given in a situation and implement them. Cushing strikes the balance between structure and a hands-off philosophy that allows the student to grow.”

Nate enjoyed the co-ed environment, the opportunity to explore Boston, and the built-in social life a boarding school provides. Nate also remembers the camaraderie and friendship he felt with classmates and faculty. “Cushing teachers do a lot of things behind the scenes to shape a person, as parents do a lot to shape their children.”

Cushing had a big impact on the direction of his life. Nate knows he would not be where he is without his time at the school. “I would have attended community college,” he says. “My parents had the foresight to provide the opportunity and all I had to do was use it to its fullest advantage. Even though I didn’t believe it, I was a lost student, academically, prior to coming to Cushing. Cushing changed my life. Cushing gave me self-confidence. It was a nurturing environment and gave me structure that I couldn’t give myself.”

When asked about his giving to Cushing over the years, Nate reflects, “Everyone in the world solicits you for money. You need to find the thing in your life that you are passionate about and that made a difference for you. I give to Cushing because even though we paid a lot for my education, Cushing gave a lot to me. I hope to continue to give to Cushing, more each year.”

An active alumnus for Michigan State’s Broad College of Business, The School of Hospitality Business, giving of his time and resources is important to Nate. When we spoke, he was on his way to help with some MSU business – clear evidence that Nate believes in active service, not just philanthropy.

Recently, he affirmed that belief by providing an interesting gift to Cushing: a five-year pledge, which increases over time, to challenge the classes of 2013 through 2017. For each graduating senior who donates to the Cushing Fund, Nate will match their giving 3 to 1. Nate’s generosity will help us to start to build a culture of giving in young alumni.

He has provided his gift as a challenge to each of the next five graduating classes in a “Five for Five” campaign –a gift of $5 will be tripled this year and will count for five years. This helps Cushing by increasing alumni participation numbers, by saving paper and other mailing resources to solicit young alumni in college who do not have the habit of giving, and by turning young alumni into donors and building in them a tradition of giving.

The father of two young daughters –Audra, 5, and Jaina, 2 – Nate and his wife Laurie, believe in leaving a legacy. Nate’s gifts to Cushing, like all gifts, will make a difference by providing resources for financial aid, faculty development, enhancements to campus, experiential learning opportunities, advanced classroom technology, and so much more!


Cushing Academy

39 School Street
Ashburnham, Massachusetts 01430

Cushing Academy

Cushing Academy exists for students and develops curious, creative, and confident learners and leaders. Founded in 1865, Cushing is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9-12 and PG. Our students, who come from over 30 states and 30 countries, excel in our outstanding academic, art, and athletic offerings. We welcome you to visit our community and beautiful 162-acre campus in Ashburnham, Mass., just one hour from Boston, to experience all that Cushing has to offer.