Over the past year, Dean Jackson has received about five letters from UTC students who received money from the scholarship named after her late husband, Jimmy Jackson Memorial Alumni.
The sentiments expressed in those letters “was wonderful,” she said.
“It was wonderful to hear the fact that these scholarships were helping them further their education and reach their goals of what they wanted to do in life,” Jackson recalled. “Most of them would say if it were not for this scholarship, I could not pursue my dreams or my goals.”
Jackson was one of dozens of donors who came Wednesday to the third-annual Scholarship Luncheon in Maclellan Gym. At the event, attended by about 300, students awarded scholarships could meet and thank those who fund the scholarships.
“It’s a great day and a great celebration,” Bryan Rowland, vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs, said in his opening remarks.
For the parents of Sami Burns, the future of education could’ve been arm-and-a-leg level. Not only was she enrolled at UTC to earn a degree in theater with a minor in business administration, her younger sister, Sarah, is going to start college at Austin Peay University.
Luckily—both for Burns’ parents and her—she was awarded the UC Foundation Jim & Emogene Lewis Theatre Scholarship and the UC Foundation Guthrie Honors Scholarship. She and her sister qualified for the Tennessee HOPE scholarship.
Not getting that money “would’ve put a big strain on my parents,” Burns says.
For more than 20 years, Bob and Barbara Oldham have endowed a scholarship for one honor student per academic year. They created the scholarship after Barbara heard a “sad story about one student who really needed some help and was going to have to drop out of school.”
“So I went home and talked to my husband about it, and I said, ‘We need to do something to help that.’ So we started with a scholarship for one student, and it was so rewarding that we just added to it, and that’s how we got where we are today.”
Greg Vital, owner and CEO of Morning Pointe Senior Living and Independent Healthcare Properties, said it’s gratifying to hear the responses from students given the Morning Pointe Management in Senior Healthcare Scholarship.
“We’re hearing from some of the students today, and they say, ‘Without the scholarship, I don’t see how this could be possible.’ Some are even saying that it’s allowed to step back from working full-time and concentrate more fully on the university experience. What does that say to you? Does it validate your decision to do a scholarship, to fully fund a scholarship?
Political science major Tessa Ross, who was awarded the Dr. Robert A. Swansbrough Endowed Scholarship, said it epitomizes her life at UTC.
“It was exciting because I worked so hard to be involved in both the community and on campus with my studies, and so to get a scholarship that embodies both of those things was an honor,” she says.
Dr. Andy Walker helps finance majors through the Andy Walker, Jr. and Barbara McLain Walker scholarships, both created by his parents and both maintained by the UC Foundation. His father’s is given to the outstanding senior in finance while his mother’s goes to the top junior.
Walker, an emergency medicine physician who graduated from UTC, says the scholarships are intended to help graduating students leave college with no or at least not much debt.
“I’m hoping it will relieve some debt and leave them free to do what they want,” he said. “It’s a reward for excellent academic performance.”