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Hollins, Simple Gifts Fund Partner to Bolster Education Pipeline for North Carolina’s Sampson County

Ƶ, Simple Gifts Fund Partner to Bolster Education Pipeline for North Carolina’s Sampson County

Community Outreach, Diversity and Inclusivity, Testimonials

May 29, 2024

Hollins, Simple Gifts Fund Partner to Bolster Education Pipeline for North Carolina’s Sampson County Simple Gifts Fund

For the past several years, Hollins University has been privileged to welcome students from one particular southeastern North Carolina county, thanks to the generosity of a local nonprofit organization.

Each year, (SGF) awards scholarships to high school seniors graduating from a school within Sampson County, North Carolina. The scholarships are intended to address unmet need in order to help students attend a private liberal arts college or university outside the state and earn a four-year degree. The scholarship is given to students who graduate in the top quarter of their class, demonstrate academic achievement and excellence, and epitomize outstanding character and leadership.

Ƶ is among the more than 350 institutions in 40 states that partner with SGF, and two rising seniors and one rising junior who came to the university through the program recently reflected on how the scholarship has impacted them.

“The Simple Gifts scholarship has had a significant influence on my life,” says Jennifer Moreno-Gomez ’25, a psychology major. “It’s not just about financial support; I’ve had endless opportunities to create some of the best memories, study abroad, and figure out what I’m truly passionate about. This scholarship has allowed me to pursue more than just my education. It has given me the freedom to follow my aspirations unhindered. [I’m helping to] prove that first-generation Latina students have the power to make a difference.”

Moreno-Gomez adds that SGF’s support has enabled her “to step out of my comfort zone,” and fellow scholarship recipient Lilibeth Arzate ’25, who is double majoring in Spanish and political science, agrees.

“Being a first-generation student, I grew up with little to no resources in my life around the idea of access to higher education. It was a ‘figure it out yourself’ situation, but get it done,” she explains. Arzate learned about the SGF scholarship through her family and her high school, and “Ƶ caught my eye at a college fair. The ambassador happened to be an SGF scholar and instantly I know that if she could do it, I could, too.”

Arzate says that pursuing an undergraduate education at Ƶ “has helped me grow professionally and individually. Thanks to SGF, I have received financial assistance to pursue my dream of a quality and affordable college education, and I am equipped with a network of professionals and scholars.”

The SGF network coordinated an internship for Arzate with the city of Clinton in Sampson County and put her in touch with other area organizations where she says she has “built up my professional experiences.” During the January Short Term at Ƶ, she interned with an environmental justice organization, and this summer she is interning with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, where she is focusing on juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.

Ariana Romero ’26, who is also majoring in psychology, calls the ability to attend college debt-free “a blessing” and believes she has “learned a lot about myself, grown independently, and [gained] an opportunity to achieve and prosper” while at Ƶ. She praises SGF Director Margaret Turlington, who regularly visits SGF scholarship recipients on campus. “We chat over dinner about how school is going and the ways in which she can support us,” Romero says.

Outside the classroom, Romero interned with the during the 2023 January Short Term and continues to maintain a relationship with the organization. She has also made connections with and the .

Moreno-Gomez is understandably proud of the fact that next year she will be the first member of her family to graduate college. “It’s an acknowledgement of my academic accomplishments as well as the challenges I faced as a first-generation college student,” she says. “It serves as an affirmation of my abilities and as a reminder that perseverance and hard dedication do pay off. Not only has this scholarship transformed my life, but it has also established a standard for future generations, demonstrating to them that goals are achievable and higher education is reachable.”

Considering her aspirations after she completes her undergraduate career, Arzate states, “Ƶ has endowed me with the tools and resources to help achieve my dream of building my skills and professional career to ensure I am not just receiving an education but giving back to communities with my skills and reciprocating the support and opportunities I have been given. I hope to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector in assisting at-risk communities after I graduate.”

And Romero is committed to being a vocal booster for SGF. “I will always advocate for the Simple Gifts scholarship and for as many seniors as possible to apply! There is no better feeling that taking the weight of financial stress off yourself and your family.”