April 07, 2011
Hamilton Holt School English major Catheryne Lowe doesn’t regret the difficulties she has faced in her educational journey. “I am grateful to have been blessed with many tribulations,” she told the students and donors who attended the Hamilton Holt School’s Annual Scholarship Recognition Dinner on October 12.
Lowe’s journey from hardship to gratitude was a long one. At the age of 13, she began contributing financially to her family, cleaning classrooms after school. After that, she worked at an ice rink. “I’d help with the water bill, food for the house, the power bill, or whatever I could,” she said. While in high school, Lowe became caregiver to her father, who suffered from diabetes. Lowe’s father died in her first semester of college, and she dropped out of school. Of this tribulation, she said, “Many times, he’d be so sick that all my sister and I could do was sit with him, read the Bible, and pray.”
A stint as a missionary finally gave Lowe the discipline she needed to succeed as a student. Returning to school after a five-year absence, Lowe chose Rollins. “The day I stepped back in the classroom was one of joy and gratitude,” she said. “I never thought I’d be the kind of student who got scholarships or straight A’s, but here I am.”
Lowe has earned more than good grades on her arduous path to higher education. “I’ve learned to love my family and friends, and to look deeper than the surface of people around me,” she said. “I’ve even learned to love my life and myself.”
Psychology major Eric Moser also took the long route to a college education. “School was not always a large part of my life,” he said. “I denied the need for a higher education and found myself floating from one dead-end job to the next.” Five years ago, however, Moser decided he could no longer simply dream about a career, that college was the pathway to a better life. He is now a 4.0 student at Rollins’ Hamilton Holt School.
He is also a husband, a full-time employee, and the chair of the Holt School’s Academic Honor Council. Moser acknowledged the challenges he and his wife, a nursing student, face. “We are hard-pressed to afford school and still keep ahead of mounting bills,” he said. “We often do not see one another until the weekend comes.” But Moser has a long-term view of their struggle. “This can be taxing, but our relationship will endure this trial,” he said.
The medical emergency of a fellow student when Moser was rushing to class one evening helped him get the big picture in focus. “I was not thinking of the world around me, and I was certainly not practicing patience,” Moser said of his state of mind when he happened upon the accident. But Moser took the time to stop, call 911, and wait for the ambulance. The difficulties of his educational journey had rewarded him. “I realized that I embraced Rollins’ mission,” he said. “I am a global citizen and a responsible leader.”
But Moser doesn’t consider the journey complete. “My only hope,” he said, “is that one day I can find a way to repay the community and continue this cycle of giving and nurturing.”
It took organizational communication major Jessi VanPelt eight years to discover what she wanted to do with her life, but when she finally did, it was a global mission. Speaking to the University Club of Orlando, which awarded her a scholarship on October 7, she explained her roundabout journey to the Hamilton Holt School and her life calling: “I could have transferred from Valencia to a four-year college with a Bright Futures scholarship, but being young and not so wise, I decided I’d had enough.” VanPelt accepted a position at the graphic design firm where she had interned. But after just a year, she moved on, starting her own graphic design firm. Three years later, she moved on again, selling her firm and taking a graphic design job at a print shop. But that wasn’t what she wanted to do with her life, either.
During her eight years away from school, VanPelt realized that her interest in helping animals, which she’d nurtured through volunteer work, had become the nucleus of a mission. “I believe it is my calling in life to promote peace to all creatures,” she said. “I hope to reconcile my creative talents with my desire to help animals, the earth, and marginalized people, and to inspire others to do the same.”
To achieve her goals, she enrolled at the Holt School. “It is my dream to create an organization that would help educate people at other nonprofit organizations about the connections between violence to farmed and companion animals and violence to people,” she said.
VanPelt acknowledged not only the value of her maturity but also of her good fortune. “Now that I am older and wiser, and have figured out what I want to do with my life, I am grateful to have another chance to go to college,” she told the University Club audience. “Without the scholarship you have provided me, I would not be able to attend Rollins.”
Scholarship gifts are an opportunity for alumni and friends to maintain their connection to the college and to enrich our community. Rollins graduates have a strong track record in the real world, where quality of credentials and connections to people, ideas, and community make a difference. Your gift will help academically deserving students with financial need achieve the lifelong benefits of a Rollins College education.
To make a gift, please visit www.rollins.edu/holt/giving. Click “Make a Gift” and choose “Hamilton Holt School.” Or attend Starry, Starry Night, which has raised more than $1.6 million in scholarship funds since 1997, helping hundreds of local students in Rollins’ evening degree program. The event’s longstanding success directly reflects the generosity and community foresight of its local patrons.
For more information, please contact Joanne Hanley at 407-646-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Renee Anduze
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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