Kent State University at Stark Scholarship Recipients Express Heartfelt Thanks to Benefactors at Annual Scholarship Dinner
Mountains are not as hard to climb when you have a generous boost to get to the summit. That is exactly what more than $108,000 in scholarship donations means to students at Kent State University at Stark. Students with various backgrounds and experiences had the opportunity to share their stories and extend thanks to their benefactors at the annual scholarship dinner in late September.
Rylie Woods, a senior psychology major, was a first-generation student who knows how it feels to face the uncertainty of a completely new experience. She explained that while it is nice to have her parents’ encouragement, discovering the worth of her educational endeavors was truly realized by the support of people willing to help pay for her schooling.
“So you write these essays to wonderful scholarship donors and the committees to see if they really do believe in your future, and they provide you with the funds to do so, and that really means a lot to me,” she said. “And because of these scholarships, my entire undergraduate education has been paid for. I couldn’t be more thankful.”
Some students, like Ashley Whipke, have had to face adversity in their educational journeys. Ashley is 23 and the mother of two children, ages seven and two.
“There’s been a lot of times in my life where people have looked down on me. They didn’t think I could make it. I know only 1% of women who were teen mothers by the age of 30 have a college degree, and I’m proud of the fact that I’m so close,” she said. “I’m so thankful to be here right now, and I’m so thankful to the donors.”
For many students, working only one job is not an option. David Loughney, a senior applied communication major, works many hours at two jobs, one on-campus and one off-campus, to pay for his education each semester.
“This scholarship really helps give me a load off my back for the year,” he said.
Madison Hoenes, a senior nursing major, explained that there is so much more to college than the education itself. Each student has a life apart from school.
“It’s amazing that you’ve made this commitment to our community to continue education because it’s a tremendous thing to be in college,” Hoenes told the donors. “It’s not only the homework, you also have your job, your family. You have so many responsibilities and to alleviate some of that financial burden truly makes a difference. Coming from a single-income family, both of my scholarships have been tremendously helpful. To have someone say ‘I believe in you,’ or ‘I want to support you,’ is incredible.”
Several students used their scholarship money to travel abroad and study on the other side of the globe, including junior Emily Weiss and seniors Nicole Zink and Bert Crawford.
Weiss, a junior applied communication major, had the opportunity to teach English in China and live with two different Chinese host families for three months over the summer of 2016. “I would not have been able to do that if I did not receive these scholarships that helped me pay for school and given me more experiences outside the classroom. Not everybody gets to do that,” she said.
Zink, an applied communication major, spent her summer 2016 semester in Florence, Italy. While there, she not only had the chance to explore the beautiful sites and history, her boyfriend flew over to surprise her and create an unforgettable marriage proposal. “So this scholarship has changed my life,” Zink said. “It has been such a blessing to be able to make these memories and to go to Florence was absolutely amazing.”
Crawford’s story is somewhat different. A biology major, Crawford struggled at the beginning of his college career, yet found success when people believed in him. He explained his passion for encouraging other minorities like himself to take full advantage of everything their education has to offer.
“Coming to Kent State Stark changed my life because I became more confident. I feel like I grew as a man,” said Crawford. “Last year I went to Italy; it was a life-changing experience for me, and one of the biggest things that I want to do is to promote it, especially to minorities who might think they could go over there like I did.”
Another scholarship recipient expressed her feelings about the practical, long-term effects of what she has received from donors.
“I am so thankful to the donors here. I’m going to graduate without any debt,” said Brielle Black, senior applied communication major. “And that is an incredible feeling.”
Written by Brielle Black, senior applied communication major at Kent State Stark.