Advancement Services

Olivia Freels

As a high school senior in 2013, the only thing I had figured out was that my calling in life was to be a nurse, and I was trusting God with the rest. I remember the first time I entered Bell Hall. I was in awe of the beauty and state-of-the-art technology available for student learning. I thought to myself, "This is where I want to learn how to be a nurse."

The ultimate deciding factor of where I would spend the next four years of my life, after high school graduation, was the Horace Jeffers Memorial Scholarship, and it just so happened that the scholarship was offered by one of the most prestigious nursing schools in the state. The scholarship ensured that I would not have to pay for tuition for all four years of college, as long as I maintained the requirements to renew it. This is every high school senior's dream come true. Little did I know that receiving this scholarship was only the beginning for me and my future at Tennessee Tech. Through my interview for the Jeffers Scholarship, I was also offered a job as a student worker in University Advancement, which was the cherry on top!

After the first year and half of getting my prerequisites out of the way, it was time to apply to nursing school. My advisors told me that I had a good shot of being accepted but that I needed to have a backup plan. With hard work, the support of my family and friends, prayers and faith, I was accepted into the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing. Finally, my dreams were becoming a reality. However, this was only the beginning of my journey to becoming a nurse. I didn't know all of the blood, sweat, and tears that would go into nursing school, but I knew it would be worth it. Throughout nursing school, I have been blessed with receiving two additional nursing scholarships, the Lawrence W. Hester and Jean Whitson Hester Memorial Scholarship and the Jean DeBord Jeffers Nursing Scholarship. I attended the nursing scholarship banquets and had the opportunity to meet the donors personally and thank them for what they had done for me. This is one of the coolest things I have ever gotten to do.

After working in University Advancement, I learned that the backbone to the University is donor support. I realized that my entire nursing education was made possible by donor support, from using the computer lab to print off documents for clinicals, to learning how to put an IV into a dummy's arm before sticking a patient, to being able to heat up a quick bite to eat in between classes in the lounge area, to having a nice, comfortable classroom to sit through three-hour lectures in.

Throughout my three years of working in University Advancement, I had had the pleasure of meeting some of the greatest people on this earth, working with an amazing UA staff and interacting with donors. There is nothing I love more than having one of our special donors walk into the Alumni Building and hearing their story and what Tech means to them and getting to share a piece of mine with them. I have had the pleasure of meeting many of these special people at the Evening of Thanks event for President's Club members, Scholarship Celebrations, and Retirees' Luncheons.

Ultimately, there are not enough words to express my gratitude to the donors who have made my education possible. With the generosity of our donors, my dreams have become a reality. I will graduate debt-free and will be able to start my future with a clean slate. It is my hope that in the future I will be able to give back a small token of what has been given to me.

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