Getting this scholarship was more than just a scholarship for me, it was more of someone helping me to achieve my life goal and to achieve my dreams of helping other people learn music,” said Kristen Thomas, Junior, vocal music education major.
Thomas met the donor of her scholarship, Dr. Glenn Draper, at a recent University luncheon honoring scholarship recipients and donors.
Scholarship donors became more than a name on paper as students shook hands, listened to life stories, and were given the opportunity to thank the very people who brought their education and goals within reach. Students were more than a wish for the future, but a reality, as donors were introduced first-hand to the academia and lives their gifts were influencing.
Thomas added, “It’s amazing to talk to someone who has been so successful in the field that I want to go to and to just have someone with that strength believe in me and tell me that I can do it and that I can get there.”
She explained that the past year had been difficult financially, but when she was awarded the music scholarship, the knowledge of that award ushered a sense of honor and relief.
“I’m grateful that I’ve been able to influence somebody’s life like that. It’s a wonderful thing,” explained Draper, who dedicated over 30 years of his life to the Department of Music as Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Music.
When he addressed luncheon attendees, Chancellor Steven Angle explained that with 193 endowed scholarships and 80 annual scholarships, 28 million dollars worth of awards are going out to our students. Their lives, stories, and families are impacted tremendously by the donors who make students’ education at UTC possible.
Kim White, alumna and President/CEO of River City Company, was the recipient of a life-changing scholarship during her time at UTC. She never had the opportunity to meet the donor behind her scholarship and thank them for helping her or truly demonstrate what their scholarship meant to her. Now that the roles are reversed, White makes it a point to connect with the students who receive her scholarship.
“Personally, as a donor my connection with the students that have gotten my scholarship has been so meaningful. UTC couldn’t do what it does, we couldn’t attract the students that we do, unless we had scholarship support. So I think an event that brings them all together where donors get to really hear what the scholarship means is very important,” White said.
First-year MBA student, Taylor Clements, is the recipient of White’s scholarship this year. The scholarship and the mentor relationship that this award has spurred between her and White means a lot. She was also excited that the opportunity she has with her scholarship donor was extended to so many others through the luncheon–the opportunity not only for the students, but for the donors to “see where their money is actually going and to get to be a part of the story that the students are creating.”