The University of North Georgia's (UNG) Oconee Campus will hold OconeeFest on Oct. 30, a fundraiser to support scholarships for Oconee County students attending any of UNG's four campuses.
The drop-in event will be held on the front lawn from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and will include food, drink and celebration. UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs and University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby will attend. Other guests include Oconee County Chamber of Commerce members, parents of students who attend UNG's Oconee Campus, and all donors to the Oconee Scholarship Fund.
"We have wanted to have this event for a while — Oconee County is the number-one feeder county to UNG's Oconee Campus," said Dr. Eric Skipper, CEO of the Oconee Campus. "This semester we have about 350 Oconee County residents as students at our campus, and there are nearly 500 UNG students total who list Oconee County as their county of origin. This fundraiser will be a tremendous help in supporting the county. There are many expenses not covered by HOPE and similar initiatives, and this will help greatly with those costs while raising student engagement and helping us to generate interest in opportunities such as study abroad."
Scholarships may be used for tuition, study abroad opportunities, undergraduate research, and other expenses and scholarly opportunities.
Nathan Toburen, SGA president for UNG's Oconee Campus, said the scholarships will benefit the community as well as students, as local businesses and philanthropists will be able to see a very real impact they are making in students' lives.
"Being a scholarship recipient myself I can attest to just how beneficial these donations can be," Toburen said. "I have two younger sisters who will likely go to college, and that can be a burden on families. Scholarships ease the entire college process. Many of the students on this campus commute from their own homes and apartments in locations such as Athens. When you enter college, you have to grow up fast — everything you took for granted living with your parents is now up to you, such as paying for groceries and gas and making sure you have money saved for emergencies. These kinds of scholarships very much lift weight off of a student's shoulders."
Skipper said the increased funds will also help the Oconee Campus keep more students at UNG.
"Our number of Oconee students transferring to other UNG campuses is growing every semester," Skipper said. "In 2013, 47 percent of our transferring students went to the University of Georgia. We want to be more intentional about transferring them to UNG, and initiatives like this will help us do that. One-hundred percent of all donations taken in at this event will go to scholarships. In addition to raising scholarship funds, we look forward to sharing with guests the exciting initiatives and projects that are happening on the Oconee Campus and across the University of North Georgia."
The event is not open to general public; however, anyone wishing to make a donation may attend. UNG faculty and staff may attend for a $10 donation. Checks may be made out to the UNG Foundation and delivered at the event.
In the event of rain, OconeeFest will be moved indoors.