A college education would be out of reach for many students without the aid of scholarships. These funds - which help students afford tuition, books, housing and, in some cases, study abroad - are available because of generous donors who are driven to help provide students with an education and the valuable tools needed for successful careers and fulfilling lives.
Last week, Lander University students had the opportunity to meet the scholarship donors and honorees who have helped sponsor their academic endeavors, as the university celebrated the 26th annual Eleanor Shiflet Teal Scholarship Banquet.
Hundreds of people filled the Finis Horne Arena for the event, and students, honorees and donors spent the evening sharing stories over dinner and hearing from three scholarship recipients who spoke about their experiences at Lander.
Michelle Amerine, a native of Mount Pleasant and visual arts major, told the audience that her educational experience at Lander would not have been possible without the financial assistance she has received through her scholarships. Amerine, the 2008-09 editor of the Review, Lander's journal of art and literature, thanked all of the donors for their support of the university and its students.
"Scholarship donations have truly contributed to my ambition to achieve the goal of a college education," she said. "I am grateful to the donors and to Lander University for leadership in promoting achievement."
Amerine is a member of Lander's Art Alliance, and she works at the Greenwood Arts Council and interns with Lander's Dining Services.
A junior majoring in special education, Wesley Owings of Mountville is the recipient of a number of scholarships, some of which are from organizations outside of Lander. Along with the Lander Presidential Ambassador Scholarship, he has received scholarships including: the Kentucky Fried Chicken Scholarship, the Bailey Foundation Scholarship and an annual scholarship from the Clinton Kiwanis Club. Owings explained that his scholarships allowed him to realize a dream that arose from a once-difficult home environment.
"Thanks to donors, here I am today - a special education major at Lander University - making something of myself," he said.
Owings said his scholarships have covered all of his college expenses as well as several trips to Europe. The funds will also pay for a future trip to Guatamala, where Owings hopes to learn Spanish and gain the experience of teaching in a foreign country.
Business administration major Allan Manyika of Harare, Zimbabwe, recounted the story of a job interview in which he was asked what separated him from the other applicants. In response, he said, "I am living an African adventure and pursuing the American dream."
Manyika is a Presidential Ambassador and a member of the international business honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma. He is active with the College of Business and Public Affairs Achievement program, the Lander Professional Business Society and the Lander International Students Organization.
"The seeds that Lander's scholarship donors have sown will germinate and grow to bear a lot of fruits for humanity," Manyika added. "My scholarships fulfilled my aspirations to become an accountant, and one day I would like to donate to the Lander Foundation because I have seen what it achieves. It builds character and willingness of the individual to dig deep and reach his or her best."
During the event Lander's vice president for University Advancement, J. Adam Taylor, expressed his thanks to all who made the 2009 event a success. "A lot of work went into putting on this year's banquet and I am grateful to all the Lander staff and volunteers who made the evening possible," he said.
"This event provides a great opportunity for Lander scholarship recipients to personally thank donors," he added. "Those donors are making a difference in our student's lives, and the university is eternally grateful for their generous support.
For information about The Lander Foundation, contact Adam Taylor at 864-388-8350.