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Women of UNG award former cadet with scholarship to continue her education

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Everill Anne Faircloth, 27, is one of eight nontraditional female students receiving a $1,000 scholarship from the Women of UNG. Faircloth shared her personal story Thursday, Dec. 6, during the Women's Holiday Scholarship Luncheon at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville.

Everill Anne Faircloth, 27, always dreamed of serving her country in the armed forces. She also wanted to follow in her grandmother's footsteps and become a nurse.

"My grandmother used to say, 'Doctors can fix the disease, but nurses treat the patients.' That resonates with me," she said.

The Ellenwood, Georgia, native appeared to be on her way after graduating high school. She trained with the Georgia National Guard in fall 2010, then enrolled in the Corps of Cadets at the University of North Georgia (UNG) in January 2011.

"I first came to the Dahlonega Campus and fell in love with the mountains, campus and college town spirit," Faircloth said. "I was awarded a full-ride military scholarship, too."

Then life happened. Faircloth injured her ankle, underwent surgery to repair it, and completed physical therapy. But her ankle continued to plague her for two years.

"Because of my injury, I couldn't commission," she said. "They had to withdraw my scholarship."

Without those funds, Faircloth could not afford college. She dropped out in May 2013. Six years later, Faircloth is returning to UNG as a senior and starting the nursing program in January 2019.

Based on her story of struggles and triumphs, Faircloth is one of eight nontraditional female students receiving a $1,000 scholarship from the Women of UNG. Faircloth shared her personal story Thursday, Dec. 6, during the Women's Holiday Scholarship Luncheon at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville.

Karen Frost, Women of UNG Board chairwoman and a 1974 UNG alumna, said Faircloth's story is not a new one. Many nontraditional female students are single women, mothers, or sole breadwinners for their family who return to school to finish their degrees or change their career, she said.

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Women of UNG awarded eight $1,000 scholarships to non-traditional female students during the Women's Holiday Scholarship Luncheon at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville. Five of the eight recipients attended the lunch with UNG President Bonita Jacobs. Recipients, from left, are Everill Anne Faircloth, Connie Henderson, Jennifer "Jenny" Rutledge, Aleta Reid, and Laura Valadez.

Nontraditional women are classified as women older than 25 attempting to complete their undergraduate degree. Along with Faircloth, the following women were awarded the scholarship:

  • Eniola Alli, 42-year-old senior from Suwanee, Ga., majoring in human services and delivery administration
  • Jasmine Fortson, 28-year-old senior from Gainesville, Ga., majoring in human services and delivery administration
  • Aleta Reid, 31-year-old senior from Bunnell, Fla., who lives in Winder, Ga., and majors in digital arts
  • Connie Henderson, 46-year-old senior originally from Gwinnett County, Ga., who lives in Cleveland, Ga., majoring in psychology
  • Jennifer "Jenny" Rutledge, 49-year-old senior originally from Indianapolis, Ind., and lives in Atlanta, majoring in sociology
  • Sklyer Sultan, 32-year-old senior from Washington, D.C. majoring in design and technology for theater with a focus in technical direction and properties
  • Laura Valadez, 30-year-old senior originally from California who lives in Gainesville, Ga., majoring in psychology

Frost said previously the scholarship amounts were awarded based on need. This year, all eight recipients received $1,000. The Women of UNG intends to award $8,000 each year.

Pat Guthrie, who was director of the UNG Foundation for 10 years, said hearing Faircloth's story and others like it touched her heart.

"The devotion to education is remarkable," she said. "We are honored to make their education possible."

The scholarship fund was established more than a decade ago with the purpose of being awarded to non-traditional, female students who showed academic promise but had a financial need, Frost said.

Diana Hyams, a 1982 UNG alumna, said it was a great idea from the start.

"I believe in UNG and the scholarships people who can't afford to go to college," she said.

Dr. Martha Nesbitt, who was president of Gainesville State College, said the scholarship for the female students is a great example of women helping women.

"This was a true grass-roots effort that we started," she said.

Faircloth and the other recipients couldn't be happier with the effort and the resulting scholarship.

"When I received the email that I got the scholarship, I started crying at work," said Faircloth, who is using her savings and a student loan to pay for college. "I didn't know what to say. There were a lot of emotions, but I was grateful."

The Gainesville, Georgia, resident plans to use $1,000 for books and lab supplies.

Faircloth also felt humbled and honored on being asked to speak at the luncheon.

"I hope that the women there will know that your circumstances don't define you," she said. "Your reaction to circumstances defines you."

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