Anonymous Donor’s vision translates to $500,000 in scholarships for Wayne County Students

Wayne Co ScholarshipsAlbert Einstein was credited with saying, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.  He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn’t…. pays it.”  As an accountant and business professional, our donor knew well the wonders of compounding when he started an endowment that awarded a $20,000 scholarship to the minority student in the Wayne County Public Schools (Goldsboro, North Carolina), who recorded the highest score in the end of grade science and math test in the third grade.   In 1992, the donor made his first contribution of $10,000 to fund the scholarship that was invested over the long term so that the third grader would have $20,000 in financial support to attend Appalachian State University. The vision of the donor was to inspire these 9 year olds to know that college has become a real possibility if they make education a priority and admission to Appalachian a personal goal.  Twenty-six scholarships have now been created over the years producing scholarships that are valued at over $500,000.

The scholarship recipient was obviously gifted to have scored in the highest percentile in the third grade. The scholarship was designed to provide incentive to work hard and remain focused on being “college bound.”  Most of the awardees are the first in their families to attend college. With the assurance of the scholarship, the financial pressures of paying college tuition are considerably lessened. The donor has stipulated that the student will major in science or mathematics and maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average.  The scholarship support is for four years.  

To prepare these young scholars to the rigors of higher education, the College of Arts and Sciences partnered with Appalachian’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Compliance that has been instrumental in communicating with these students and their families and arranging for visits to the university for those who are in high school and starting to think about the next steps of their education.  Susan King, Education and Outreach Coordinator says, “We begin cultivating relationships with these gifted young people as soon as they are awarded the scholarship. It’s important for them to have a personal experience of Appalachian, and so we introduce them to as many Appalachian students, faculty and staff as possible on campus visits.” Scholars attend classes, labs, and sports events, eat in the dining hall, shop in the bookstore and spend their nights in residence halls with Appalachian student hosts. King coordinates with the Office of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Parent and Family Services to ensure that each student – and parent – receives the assistance needed to make the application process to Appalachian a smooth and successful one. 

And, successful they have been.  The adjustment to college life is difficult for many students, particularly those who are the first in their family to attend college.  Student Support Services counselors are available to help the Wayne County scholars succeed in the transition.  Student Support Services Director Cathia Silver explained, "The program fosters a sense of community and provides integrative services for students starting with their orientation through graduation including proactive advising, academic instruction and tutoring, financial aid assistance, mentoring program, and career exploration and development - all services designed to retain and graduate students from first-generation, low-income homes.”

Today, the Wayne County Scholars are showing great accomplishments.  A recent graduate is starting his career at a credit union and a pre-med student in her last semester doing a medical study abroad program in Africa. Several have become involved in leadership positions with organizations on campus.  One, a rising sophomore, has just been elected vice chair of the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Committee for Diversity Recruitment. Another has been chosen as a mentor for the L.E.A.D. program (Linking Education And Diversity), which is designed to create fellowship among students and families of historically underrepresented backgrounds and to help ease their transition to Appalachian State University

Currently, we have three Wayne County Scholars enrolled, and an additional ten young scholars who have been notified of their awards and are now working through elementary, middle school, and high school with the knowledge that their path to college is assured . . . if they maintain their outstanding academic records.  Meanwhile, the magic of compounding is silently working in the background to ensure this donor’s contributions grow to match the promise of a higher education for these students.

Published: Jul 24, 2015 9:07am