In its 111th year of existence, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College awards more student scholarships than at any time in its history. ABAC students are quick to tell you that these are life-changing dollars.
“My scholarship allows me to focus on my success in college, rather than focus on the financial requirements,” Kaycee Aultman, a writing and communication major from Tifton, said. “My scholarship also allows me to take part in extracurricular activities.
“I am president of the ABAC Ambassadors this year, serve as a student representative on multiple committees, and work as an orientation leader. There’s no way I could be that involved without the scholarship.”
A recipient of the Allstate Construction ABAC Foundation Scholarship, Aultman has a perfect 4.0 grade point average. So not only does she put a lot of effort into extracurricular activities, she focuses on her main task of success in the classroom.
ABAC Foundation Chief Operating Officer Jodie Snow, a 2000 ABAC alumnus, said the Foundation provided ABAC students with 515 scholarships worth $715,000 this year. She said the Foundation utilizes An Evening for ABAC as an annual scholarship fundraising event, raising more than $100,000 for student scholarships each of the past three years.
“Our goal is to raise enough funds for at least 40 scholarships,” Wayne Jones, the director of the ABAC Arts Connection who helps to coordinate An Evening for ABAC, said. “That means we have to net $100,000. We have been very fortunate that we have done that three years in a row.”
“An Evening for ABAC is an awesome event,” Aultman said. “I get to help during the event, and I love meeting the donors and the visitors. It’s just another way I am able to take full advantage of every opportunity I have been given at ABAC.”
An Evening for ABAC is just one of the ways that the Foundation raises the funds to meet the scholarship needs of students who are anxious to take part in the ABAC experience.
Neel Patel, a biology major from Tifton, makes no bones about how important his scholarship is to him.
“It is an honor for me to receive the Tift Regional Health System ABAC Foundation scholarship,” Patel said. “It reminds me that hard work is always rewarded in one way or another. It also reminds me to stay focused and work toward my goals.
“As a college student, I know that I will struggle at times, however, receiving this scholarship will help me to keep pushing toward my goals.”
Each year the ABAC Alumni Association holds a Milk and Cookies event in August where the scholarship recipients visit the Alumni House and pen a personal thank you note to their scholarship donors. Alumni board members then serve fresh baked cookies and milk to the students. Response has been phenomenal, both from the students and their donors.
Raines Evans, a biology major from Fitzgerald, is thankful for the scholarship support.
“It is an honor to be a part of the ABAC Family,” Evans said. “When Sodexo offered me this scholarship through the ABAC Foundation, I was able to live at home and explore a little more of college with an easy mind because I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to pay for school.
“This has been a great year for me at ABAC. Because of the scholarship, I can study more and worry about work less.”
ABAC Advancement Director Deidre Martin believes scholarships are a win-win situation, both for the donor and the individual or company which provides the financial support.
“We have our solid base of supporters, largely from the business community, who see the value of ABAC and want to support it,” Martin said. “Every year we have new donors join the effort once they have heard about the success we have had and decide they want to be a part of it.
“Everyone likes supporting student scholarships. It’s a great way for them to give back and make an investment in the next generation.”
Martin is all about connecting donors to the students who benefit from their generosity.
“We make an effort throughout the year for donors to meet their scholarship recipient and take a photo with them,” Martin said. “That’s just one of the ways that we try to put a face to the scholarship donation.”