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WCU Stories

Scholarships Unleash Student’s Potential


The power of scholarships reaches beyond simply alleviating the financial burden from students and their families. Scholarships are oftentimes the determining factor in whether a student pursues a college education at all.

Graduating Leader Michael Penland


This is Michael Penland’s story.

Michael was an average high school student earning average grades, but his high school guidance counselor saw his potential. She selected him to receive a $20,000 scholarship from the Asheville Tourists, a minor league baseball team. Coming from a single-parent household and not having any immediate family members holding a bachelor’s degree, this scholarship was the sole deciding factor for Michael to start his higher education journey.

That initial scholarship that led Michael to WCU four years ago gave him the tangible and intangible investment in his future that he needed. He went on to earn three WCU endowed scholarships, among several other institutional scholarships, and he graduated this semester magna cum laude, rising far above his humble beginnings, with no student loan debt thanks to the generosity of WCU donors.

Scholarships change lives. Giving to the Lead the Way campaign shapes the future for leaders like Michael.

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