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Monthly Donor Profile: Natalie McMcmanus Chu & The Chu Family

Meet Natalie McMcmanus Chu and the Chu Family, SAS Monthly Donors!

When you give a financial gift to Semester at Sea, you are impacting innumerable lives: even the smallest of donations goes a long way to operate the program, make it attainable for a student who might not otherwise be able to afford it, and make the incredible on-ship and in-port experiences happen every voyage. These funds, large or small in amount, make incredibly personal impacts on the students who embark on each voyage. Many gifts are personal, too–some might give specialized scholarships in honor of their respective fields or in honor of a special person, while others might make a generalized annual or monthly donation to make sure each voyage goes off without a hitch. 

For Natalie McMcmanus Chu, a new monthly donor to Semester at Sea, her gift is so personal, in fact, that even the amount she gives on behalf of her and her husband, Zduy Chu, has incredible significance. Natalie, who sailed as a UVA graduate student at the time and taught Spanish courses as faculty on the Fall 2010 Voyage, met Zduy on the voyage, as he worked as a Living-Learning Coordinator for the Yellow Sea. Fast forward three years, and the two were married on November 9, 2013. Then, ten years and two kids later, Natalie knew the perfect gift she’d give to Zduy on their 10-year wedding anniversary in November 2023: a recurring monthly donation that honors their November 9, 2013 wedding date. In many ways, a monthly donation made sense to Natalie, as it was “the most sustainable option” since it can easily be budgeted for – but it also represented her and Zduy’s ongoing commitment to Semester at Sea and its mission. “When Zduy and I sailed, we were broke – Zduy a young staff member and me a broke graduate student – and we remember what it’s like to be on a voyage and have to limit ourselves a bit. We sometimes meet Semester at Sea students who came on their voyage to see the world, but they are limited in funds, so they end up having to come back to the ship every night to eat and sleep. We are now giving monthly to help support those students so they can really see and do more in each port,” Natalie shared. Now, with the Chu’s monthly gift, they can support students who want to see and do as much as they can on each voyage. 

“For me, Semester at Sea was such a chance to see the world – the good and the bad – and students really get to experience global citizenship and see how other people live in a safe environment. We are just so glad to be able to support this mission,” Natalie said.

As to how Zduy reacted to his anniversary gift – Natalie says, he was, “So happy. He loved it and was 100 percent in favor of the idea of monthly giving.” The Chus now reside in Florida, where Natalie teaches Spanish at Florida State University (and teaches yoga as a “side hustle”), and Zduy serves as the Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs. “Semester at Sea is family,” Natalie said. “This program is where my life really began to take hold, and we are so happy to become monthly donors in a way that is deeply personal and special.” 

Interested in setting up a monthly or one-time gift to Semester at Sea?

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