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Non-traditional female students honored at luncheon

December 11, 2019

In high school, Michelle Adeyemi had all of the qualifications to enroll and succeed in college. She was a student athlete, Student Council president and National Honor Society member. But the first-generation student didn't apply to any colleges or universities.

"I didn't know where to start or how to get to the next level," the University of North Georgia (UNG) junior said.

Adeyemi also pointed out none of her teachers or guidance counselors encouraged her to pursue college or offered her help with the process. Therefore, Adeyemi graduated from high school at 17 and got a job as a teller at a bank. Based on her academic prowess, she excelled at her job and gained promotions.

Adeyemi also started a family. When her son entered second grade, she realized she wanted to set an example for him. She wanted to become a teacher, which meant she needed a college degree. After taking eight classes followed by another stint in the workforce, Adeyemi has diligently pursued a degree in middle grades education at UNG.

For her dedication and determination, the 38-year-old from Braselton, Georgia, was awarded a UNG scholarship from the Women's Educational Scholarship Fund. Adeyemi shared her gratitude and personal story as the keynote speaker of the Women's Holiday Scholarship Luncheon on Dec. 5 at the Chattahoochee Country Club in Gainesville, Georgia.

The Women of UNG selected Adeyemi and seven other female UNG students to each receive a $1,000 scholarship. The scholarship was established more than a decade ago to supply nontraditional, female students who showed academic promise with funds to continue their post-secondary education.

"We picked women who have a unique story to tell and they all have a need," said Leanne Minghini, chairwoman of the Women of UNG. "Their stories just tear at your heartstrings."

The other scholarship recipients were:

  • Brittany Adams, a 31-year-old from Martin, Georgia, pursuing a degree in human services delivery and administration.
  • Melody Collis, a 38-year-old senior from Dahlonega, pursuing a degree in nursing.
  • Katherine Dantonio, a 40-year-old senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in middle grades math and science education.
  • Julie Kennedy, a 48-year-old senior from Toccoa, Georgia, pursuing a business administration degree.
  • Christiana Kumi-Yeboah, a 38-year-old senior from Lawrenceville, Georgia, pursuing a nursing degree.
  • Angela Martin, a 40-year-old junior from Flowery Branch, Georgia, pursuing a history degree.
  • Alexandra Sarratori, 27-year-old senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a computer science degree.

At the luncheon, the scholarship recipients met with UNG alumnae, which is what Minghini looks forward to seeing.

"I think the most important thing to me is seeing these women come together and support these students," she said.

Once she graduates from UNG and becomes a teacher, Adeyemi said she plans to support her middle school students and give hope to students like herself.

"My grandmother had a third-grade education. My mom left school early but went back and got her GED," she said. "I was satisfied with my high school diploma, but I wanted to do something more. I wanted to teach. So I am breaking that cycle."

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