BRIANNA NICOLE BRANNON, 2019 Scholar
"Hello, my name is Brianna Brannon and I was the 2019 recipient of the Alyssa Joy Stith Memorial Scholarship. I finished my freshman year at Old Dominion University in the spring and I can definitely say that it was one for the books. Unfortunately, my first-year college experience was cut short due to the pandemic, but the time that I spent on campus was filled with lots of new and different experiences. My classes went well (my final GPA was 3.41), though some were definitely more interesting than others.
As a vocal music major, I got the opportunity to go to tons of interesting live performances and hear music from all over the world. I even got to meet and talk to some of the musicians that came to perform on campus, which was super cool. If it were not for the Martha Mason Hill Memorial Foundation, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to be on campus to be given such wonderful opportunities, so I thank you for gifting me with your scholarship and making these things possible for me. Thank you."
JONATHAN COLEMAN, 2019 Scholar
"Hello, my name is Jonathan Coleman and I was the 2019 Recipient of the Martha Mason Hill Memorial Scholarship. This past year at East Carolina University went extremely well. I adjusted college with ease. I managed to earn a 3.7 as my final GPA while being on the football team. I declared a major in Management Information Systems. My goal is to pursue cybersecurity. Although I faced challenges throughout the year, I believe this year allowed me to find out so much about myself. This was the longest time away from my parents and family.
I had to continue to build on my foundation independently. First and foremost, finding a church that would continue to mold me into the Christian that my parents would be proud of and, also surrounding myself with good people. I am currently a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council and want to continue to use my platform as a voice on my campus. Again, I would like to thank the Martha Mason Hill Memorial Foundation for helping aid me through this process. I will continue to strive to be the very best person I can be and always put God first."
LAILA AMPY-THOMAS, 2019 Scholar
"My name is Laila and I was the 2019 recipient of the Martha Mason Hill Memorial Scholarship. I was thrilled to receive this scholarship and grateful for the opportunities it provided for me. I am currently an Animal and Poultry Sciences major on the production track attending Virginia Tech. I am now a sophomore and I will be talking about my experience as a freshman. My freshman year was difficult in the beginning because I had to adjust to being three and a half hours away from my family and friends. I was also adjusting to living in the mountains which are beautiful when the sun sets. My first semester was a rollercoaster. I met new people and made friends. I got lost a couple of times here and there. I was taking animal science classes and experiencing firsthand how to handle livestock.
Then college got harder academically, and I had to adjust my studying techniques for my new environment. Then my second semester started, and I felt I had a better handle on my new life as a college student. I was working out regularly to relax myself. I volunteered on campus at the VT Swine Center and I was raising a heifer (a young female cow) named Patches. I got out more and was making new friends inside and outside of my major. I became the president of the Sheep Club. It was all seeming to look great and be better for me then Covid-19 sent us home. I was happy to be home and feel safe in my own space since I was living in a dorm with a community bathroom. It was still upsetting to be leaving once I finally felt I was fitting in more. My course work became harder in some classes like my biology classes which I attended office hours for more clarity on subjects and my livestock handling class got harder because now there were no animals to handle. Then my other classes were easier, and I just watched videos and answered questions.
I ended my freshman year with a GPA of 3.45. I was also on the Dean's List for my fall and spring semesters. Overall, my freshman experience at Virginia Tech was a learning experience and taught me a lot of valuable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. My freshman year has also given me great lifelong friendships. I would like to say thank you again for giving me this opportunity and helping me continue my education.
Taylor Thomas-Harris, 2017 Scholar
Taylor is amazing! She had a very successful freshman year at Longwood University, finishing the year with a 3.5 GPA. She joined the Chi Alpha, a Christian Fellowship at the University. and was inducted into The National Society of Leadership and Success in the second semester. She took statistics over the summer. Her future plans are to get a degree in social work and become a counselor for those with disabilities. Taylor is a great role model. Given that she has managed to excel in spite. of having cerebral palsy since birth, makes her an ideal counselor for others with challenges.
In accessing her first year, Taylor says that being a college student is very different from being in high school. She was concerned about being away from home with a disability and being able to handle the work load with a disability. It takes longer for her to complete her assignments, but she starts early and always goes to her professors if she needs help.
She wrote that in college, you have to make decisions for yourself, your parents are not there for the daily decisions facing you. She said that having to manage her time without parental guidance was a big deal as was getting to professors for help during their scheduled office hours. Having so many assignments in college, many with the same due date without reminders from parents took some getting used to, but she did it! She said there were times when she had to make a choice between doing homework and attending an event. Managing her time also meant taking care of herself, such as making sure she ate properly (three meals a day is important for Taylor to do) and got rest.
Kordell Burgess, 2015 Scholar
"I would just like to give you all an update on finishing my first year of college. Going into college I was nervous but was very excited as well. There are some students who go off to college and realize they are unable to handle the amount of freedom they receive, and I was not sure if I would be able to handle it or not. I am glad to say that I was able to handle my newfound freedom. I enjoyed my first year of college very much. It was filled with much joy, laughter, new experiences, and friendships that will last a lifetime. Although the coursework was very rigorous and the transition from high school took some getting used too, managing my time well and setting priorities made all the difference. I became involved in many clubs such as the NAACP, Black Male Initiative, Black Student Alliance, Daniel Hale-Williams Pre- Medical Honor Society, Black Collegiate 100, participated in a fashion show, volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club, acted in a play, and spent a weekend at Yale University. I would have never imagined that I would have participated in any of those events, but I am glad I did. Overall, my first year of college was phenomenal, and I am looking forward to three more phenomenal years when I will continue to grow as a person. Your generous scholarship made a difference in my first year and for that I will always be grateful."
Adrianna Moore, 2015 Scholar
“My first year at North Carolina State University was the beginning of what I know will be an amazing four years. I made great friends and learned so many new things about myself and who I want to be. I also learned a lot about myself academically. College is definitely different than high school and for me that meant I really had to buckle down when it came to my studies. Everything came so easily in high school. In college I had to really study and test myself when it came to the information. Overall, I think my first year has made me a better student and has taught me many lifelong lessons.”
Jasmine Wade,￼2009 Scholar
A proud alumna of Cornell University. Jasmine is a business technology professional with￼experience in customer engagement, IT solutions selling, and user experience management￼with an interest in spreading into marketing and product management. She is passionate￼about technology, innovation, design and social media.