Eigty-two students are working toward their degrees at Western Carolina University this semester after receiving financial assistance in the form of first-year access scholarships made possible by donors to the Fund for WCU.
The inaugural year of the WCU Division of Advancement’s 1889 Fund Scholarship program has generated a total of nearly $40,000 in scholarship support for students during the 2022-2023 academic year.
Mason Avillion, a resident of Elon who transferred to WCU from Alamance Community College and is now majoring in entrepreneurship and in business administration and law, said he plans to use his scholarship as a springboard to law school and a career as a general practice attorney.
“Receiving the 1889 Fund Scholarship was a great honor. I am independently paying for my education, so any scholarship or grant helps greatly. This is not to demean the importance, or my gratitude, for receiving this specific scholarship. During my past two years at Alamance Community College, I have been trying my absolute hardest in classes and extracurriculars, but I rarely ever felt that I was recognized for my accomplishments. Being awarded the 1889 Fund Scholarship helped to satisfy that need for acknowledgment,” Avillion said.
“I want everyone who contributed to the 1889 Fund Scholarship to know their money is not going to waste. I have already put their money to good use,” said Avillion, who is currently in three leadership positions – vice president of relations for Future Business Leaders of America, finance and strategy committee member in the Student-Made Club and vice president of the Pre-Law Club – and is helping organize an American Mock Trials Association team at WCU. “To all those who donated to the fund, I am forever grateful.”
Savannah Walsh, a first-year sophomore from Cold Spring, Minnesota, who is majoring in Spanish, also is among this year’s scholarship recipients.
“Receiving the 1889 Fund Scholarship has helped me to afford an education that will not only impact my future career, but also allows me to make connections with my peers and equips me with all I need to become a better person,” Walsh said. “My goal after graduating from WCU is to get a job as a translator and bridge the communication gap.”
For Linzey Poe, a first-year sophomore from Wilmington majoring in integrated health sciences, the 1889 Fund Scholarship is an important step toward finishing undergraduate studies at WCU and going on to work on a master’s degree in occupational therapy.
“I want to specialize in pediatrics and be able to find a company that allows rotation clinical work. That way, I can travel and try out multiple practices,” Poe said. “Receiving this scholarship has made a difference in my education journey by helping to pay for my room, tuition and meal plan. It contributed to lowering my out-of-pocket costs, so that I could focus more on school. I was able to settle into school and really understand the flow of things instead of rushing to get a job.”
In addition to providing first-year access scholarships, the Fund for WCU supports the 1889 Impact Grants Program. Launched in 2021, the grants program helps WCU colleges, departments and units to support initiatives that align with WCU’s philanthropic priorities and further enhance the engagement of alumni and stakeholders to the philanthropic life of the university.
1889 Fund Scholarships are made possible by annual contributions to the Fund for WCU, including leadership gifts from members of the 1889 Club, which recognizes donors for gifts made on an annual basis to the Fund for WCU. The club, among four giving societies established by the Division of Advancement to celebrate the impact of philanthropy on the institution, is named in honor of the year of WCU’s founding.
Learn more about how the Fund for WCU and 1889 Impact Grants provided support for this project.