Each semester, the Friday Center awards three scholarships to part-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students age 24 or older studying at UNC-Chapel Hill. The Friday Adult Learner Scholarship is named for former UNC President Bill Friday, who strove to make a University education available to all citizens of North Carolina.

Funding for the scholarship comes directly from donor contributions. Read the story below from a spring scholarship recipient, and consider a donation to the Friday Adult Learner Scholarship to help students like Allison achieve their goal of getting back in the classroom and working towards their degree.

“Even as a first generation college student, I feel very much at home at UNC-Chapel Hill–all thanks to the Friday Center. The Part-time Classroom Studies program has made it possible to pursue a complete career change–merging my professional experience with an academic background in the natural sciences.

After high school, I knew I wanted to pursue higher education, but which field of study I would pursue was uncertain. I knew that working for a period of time between high school and college would provide not only professional experience, but also help shape my academic focus. I began my career in real estate management, and since have gained transferable skills that have proven invaluable as a student: adaptability, diplomacy, collaboration, and assertiveness. While working full-time, I’ve managed to feed my intellectual curiosity through self-education via MOOCs (massive open online courses) and diverse volunteer experiences, including the Museum of Life and Science in Durham.

My self-directed studies and volunteer work pointed me to the field of study I was most passionate about: the natural sciences. I’m fascinated by our Earth, and believe that my academic career at UNC will prepare me to help analyze the current obstacles and create ways to preserve it. I want to help further research in natural resource stewardship, empower companies to adopt environmentally sustainable practices, and educate the public so together we can make thoughtful decisions about how we affect and protect the Earth.

Once I heard about the Friday Center, I knew I was ready to move forward with my college education. At first, going back to school seemed a little daunting, but after a few semesters I realized how my unique experience has made me a highly motivated student with an eagerness to learn and a resourcefulness to get things done. Now, with this clear focus paired with UNC’s excellent professors and courses, I’m excited to continue my college journey to obtain my BA in Environmental Studies.

Next year, I will leave my current full-time job in order to take on a heavier course load. Leaving my job will be bittersweet, but necessary to transition to full-time status. In order to support myself financially, I plan to find a part-time job near campus. I am also applying to internships next summer in order to further my first-hand experience in the environmental science field.

Graduating from UNC will be monumental for me. Not only will it mean I’ve succeeded as a first generation college student, but it will mark a new chapter where I will be well-equipped to help improve environmental policies, conserve our natural resources, and promote science communication to the public. Many people have inspired me along my journey, and I hope to one day encourage others to be lifelong learners as well.”

Interested in our other Spring 2017 Friday Adult Learners Scholarship winners? Learn more about Owen and Brett, and how their scholarships will help them reach their educational goals.