If it wasn’t for a man who loved their dogs, Dean and Mary Jane Heavener would never have created the Will E. Payne scholarship.
“He was our dogsitter when he died and he was a musician,” Dean says. “His brother lived across the street from us and he’d come over to see his brother, park his van in his brother’s driveway, then walk across the street to spend an hour or more at our house playing with our dogs. Then he’d say, ‘Well, I guess I’d better go across the street and see my brother.’”
Their love of Payne is why their $1,000 annual scholarship in his name is for students with an interest in country and folk music who maintain a 2.5 grade point average.
“We loved him,” Mary Jane says. “He was such a character.”
The Heaveners, who fund two other scholarships that focus on UTC female basketball athletes, were one of dozens of donors who attended the annual Scholarship Luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 11. Held in McKenzie Arena, the event gave donors a chance to meet the students—more than 100 this year—who receive their scholarship while also giving the students a chance to thank their benefactors. In the process, donors and students got to talk and know each other a bit better.
Emily Wilson, the student speaker at the luncheon, is a Brock Scholar and also received the Joyce Ireland Cook scholarship.
Brock Scholars live together in Stagmaier Hall as part of the UTC Honors Living Learning Community and Wilson says that, while she deeply appreciates both scholarships, being a Brock Scholar “has not only helped my financial ability to go to school, it’s also giving me the ability to make so many amazing friendships because it’s such an integrated living/learning community.”
A junior marketing major with minor in communications, Wilson says she’d like to be a social media manager or a media relations manager when she graduates.
Roger and Claire Smith were first-generation college students when they enrolled in UTC. He came in 1969, the same year the University of Chattanooga merged with the University of Tennessee system; she enrolled in 1970. He graduated with a degree in business; she earned a degree in education.
Both were recipients of the UC Foundation Leadership scholarship, which covers all four years of college. Roger said it would’ve been an iffy proposition to attend college if he hadn’t received the scholarship. “Maybe, maybe not,” he said.
Claire said her scholarship “really made me want to participate and be involved and take advantage of the opportunity.”
“And here we are 50 years later. We’re full circle.We’re actively involved,” she said.
Will Lowery came to UTC from Memphis to study music therapy and vocal performance. A sophomore, he received three scholarships—Authors and Artists, Music Performance and the Edmonia J. Simmons Endowed. Without that money, he wouldn’t have been able to come to Chattanooga, he said.
I was in a place of financial instability and the scholarship really helped me continue my education here,” he said. ”The scholarships have given me the opportunity to come to UTC.”