University of Central Arkansas students shared personal testimonies about how the generosity of others changed their lives during the University of Central Arkansas Foundation’s annual scholarship reception.
The reception, held each year, provides donors an opportunity to meet the students who have benefited from their contributions to UCA. Last year, the UCA Foundation awarded more than $612,000 in scholarships to deserving students. The foundation awarded 151 named scholarships to 326 students. The foundation has 204 scholarships that have reached the $10,000 or above endowment level.
“The UCA Foundation's annual scholarship reception signifies the enduring promise by our donors to our current and future students as they learn and become engaged, thoughtful and productive citizens,” said Shelley Mehl, vice president of advancement.
Donors and scholarship recipients were interviewed about the benefits of giving during a segment called “The Legacy of Philanthropy.” Desirae Thomas, a 2002 UCA graduate, shared her thoughts about the establishment of the university's African American Scholarship. Thomas actively began funding the scholarship in 2007.
The scholarship is for African American students attending UCA from the Arkansas Delta region. Thomas created the scholarship as a way to give back to the community and to plant the seed for students to give back to UCA.
The foundation awarded the first African American Scholarship during the 2011-12 academic year.
“Something that my Mom always said was ‘the more you know the farther you go.’ I felt that the opportunity to assist or help someone from my community and allow them the opportunity to know the importance of an education, is so important,” she said. “Especially now, you really need an education in order to make any type of advancement.”
Thomas credited the Alumni 100 campaign in the establishment of the scholarship. Proceeds from the Alumni 100 and the “Night of Distinction” endowed all of the alumni scholarship funds including the African American Scholarship.
“The Alumni 100 was so important to getting this scholarship started and we’re working hard now to try to get more dollars into this endowment and continue it,” she added.
Mayah Thomas, a freshman majoring in computer science major, said the scholarship will help many students from her area.
“I know there’s going to be some hard times in college, but because of my donor being from where I’m from and knowing that some kids don’t really go to college, it just inspired me to do my best and graduate so I can have a good career,” Thomas said.
Hannah Brown, the recipient of the Howard R. and Emily Montgomery Scholarship, said donors help many students reach their dreams of furthering their education.
“I am a first generation college student and I have two younger brothers,” she said. “I am really excited that I got to come here so I can further my education to teach and to be a good example for the younger members of society.”