Kim White said her life might have been significantly different without a college scholarship.
“I was a first-generation, working college student, and a scholarship changed my life and my trajectory,” said White, a 1982 graduate of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and now vice chancellor for development and alumni affairs at UTC.
She spoke during the 2022 Scholarship Luncheon, held Tuesday in the University Center’s Tennessee Room. The annual event brings together students, donors, faculty and staff to honor the generosity of donors and celebrate scholarship recipients and their academic achievements at UTC.
“This event really brings all that back home about the need for donors,” said White, who also is executive director of the University of Chattanooga Foundation.
With about 200 people in attendance, the hourlong program allowed students to express gratitude to their benefactors while giving donors the chance to meet the students benefitting from this generosity.
Doug Brown, chair of the UC Foundation and a 1985 UTC alumnus, said he loves the annual event.
“This is really where the rubber meets the road, where we get to connect donors with students and see the futures and possibilities that are provided,” said Brown, who established the Norma Woodall Brown Memorial Scholarship to honor his mother.
“I know what it’s like to be a struggling student that needed a little bit of help, and this luncheon is a very rewarding experience for the donors,” he said.
UTC Chancellor Steven Angle thanked UTC students and donors.
“To our students, thank you for being with us. To have the opportunity to meet somebody you didn’t even know who has been generous enough to try and make your college education more affordable,” Angle said. “And to our donors, we thank you for your generosity, for your desire to touch the future through a scholarship with a student.
“What we do at UTC is such a privilege. We are so grateful to our donors to be our partners as we work with our students,” Angle said.
The luncheon was highlighted by Angle’s announcement of a $1.5 million gift from the Jack and Charlotte Frost Family Foundation, establishing the Frost Family Investment Fund at UTC.
Angle said the Frost Family Investment Fund will support the Veterans Entrepreneurship Alumni Program and provide support for startup businesses in underserved areas.
It also will create undergraduate scholarships focused exclusively on supporting students across the UTC campus who are either military veterans, the children of veterans, the children of first responders or currently enrolled in ROTC, he said.
Luncheon attendees also watched a video featuring student scholarship recipients from across campus.
Christine Rukeyser, a junior majoring in chemistry, said financial assistance helped her purchase textbooks.
“I have received the (Marjorie) Higdon Textbook Award, and I know it’s thanks to the generosity and support of the sponsors and donors, which I really appreciate,” Rukeyser said.
Junior Harrison Davis, a data analytics and finance major was one of the initial recipients of a Gary W. Rollins Scholarship, named after the donor who gave $40 million gift —the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the UTC—to the College of Business. This year, Davis also landed a Dean’s Advisory Board Scholarship.
“I don’t think that I would be in the position that I am financially or professionally if I didn’t have those scholarships,” said Davis. “They’ve allowed me to progress through my college career without worry about finances and about where I’m going to be.”
Junior Abigail Lee has received multiple scholarships, including the Mario C. and Grace B. Charles Scholarship, the Frank Jones Memorial Scholarship and the Chattanooga Engineers Club Annual Scholarship.
“I would like to thank them for the opportunity of getting this extra money,” said Lee, a chemical engineering major. “I can make it through the whole semester without having to worry about extra money towards bills, books, rent. It’s covered all my extra expenses and allowed me to focus on my education here.”
Senior Matthew Lewis is the recipient of the School of Nursing’s Jill Wheeler Memorial Scholarship.
“The gift that you guys have given has allowed me to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse and allowed me to make an impact on my patients’ lives. It’s helped a lot,” Lewis said.
“I’d like to thank the family of Jill Wheeler for doing the scholarship and helping me and other nursing students that will get this scholarship,” he said.
Ezza Zahid, a junior majoring in biology, said scholarship funding provided by the Honors College is allowing her to follow a dental pathway.
“Being a first-generation student, I didn’t have anyone to guide me much, but being in the Honors College has definitely provided me more opportunities and opened doors that I don’t think I could have done by myself,” Zahid said.
Athletically, Abbey Cornelius is a senior on the Mocs women’s basketball team. Academically, she is a first-year MBA student, having already earned a bachelor’s degree in health and exercise science from UTC in December.
“These scholarships have opened up so many doors for me at UTC. They’ve given me the opportunity to continue my education and basketball career and make friendships and memories that will last a lifetime,” said Cornelius, recipient of the Peaslee Women’s Basketball Scholarship. “You’ve given us all so many opportunities. Without you, we would not be able to do this.”
Civil engineering major Arielle Scalioni, a first-generation student, has been the recipient of the Chattanooga Engineers Club Annual Scholarship, the William Q. Gurley Scholarship, the Mr. and Mrs. Paul J. Kinser Scholarship and the James W. Rogers Endowed Scholarship.
“I graduate in May, so this whole semester has been little, tiny celebrations throughout,” Scalioni said. “I’m just very, very thankful for everything that the donors have done for us, and I just hope one day to be able to give back to those who are also wanting to further their education, especially girls in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field.”
A virtual scholarship luncheon for donors and students unable to attend the in-person event will take place Thursday from 11 a.m.-noon. The event is invitation only.