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Eight nontraditional students receive scholarships from Women of UNG

November 30, 2020

As a mother of five, University of North Georgia (UNG) student Renee Clement knows the importance of education and the value of a dollar. So when she decided to return to college after a 25-year hiatus, she knew she would need help.

"I applied for every scholarship that I could," said the senior pursuing a degree in sociology. "If you don't apply for them, then you are never going to get them."

Her persistence paid off. She received two scholarships in fall 2019, two in spring 2020, and one in summer 2020. Then in fall 2020, the Statham, Georgia, resident was awarded a Women of UNG scholarship.

"I'm humbled to be recognized by the Women of UNG," said Clement, who will use the funds to complete her bachelor's degree. "And I'm honored to be part of that group."

Designated as a shared interest group of alumni, faculty and staff, the Women of UNG is dedicated to promoting the role of women as confident leaders and active participants at UNG. Each year, a committee gives $1,000 scholarships to eight women older than 25 pursuing undergraduate degrees.

"We feel it is important to encourage and support these women who are juggling the responsibility of family, work and furthering their education," said Leanne Minghini, chairwoman of the Women of UNG and a 1988 UNG alumna. "Our scholarship recipients are all unique in their situations. As we hear each story and follow the recipients through graduation and as they pursue their careers, we see these ladies realize their dreams. We are so proud of each one of these ladies."

This year, Clement and seven other women were awarded the Women's Educational Scholarship. They are:

  • Andrea Dailey, a senior from Clarkesville, Georgia, pursuing a degree in psychology
  • Melanie Majors, a junior from Gainesville, Georgia, pursuing a degree in biology
  • Angela Lynn Martin, a senior from Flowery Branch, Georgia, pursuing a degree in history
  • Luz Demaria Pereira, a junior from Suches, Georgia, pursuing degrees in general studies and nursing
  • Alexandra Gale-Ryan Sarratori, a senior from Cumming, Georgia, pursuing a degree in computer science
  • Veronica Schweitzer, a senior from Dahlonega, Georgia, pursuing a degree in sociology
  • Krista Sims, a junior from Gainesville, Georgia, pursuing a degree in English with teacher certification

Clement was selected to speak at the Women's Holiday Scholarship Luncheon, which is usually held the week after finals. While the annual event was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clement's speech was recorded.

Clement said she was surprised to be selected.

"I actually know some of the other recipients. I know their stories," she said. "I'm shocked that the committee chose me over some of the other ones."

A Navy veteran, Clement decided to return to school after attending an open house at UNG's Oconee Campus with her husband and two children who were in high school.

"My husband said, 'You are excited about this. You should go back to school.' I just laughed," she said.

She enrolled in spring 2017 as a part-time student. A year later, she became a full-time student and is scheduled to graduate in May 2021. She said her student-worker jobs at UNG and the scholarships helped her finish in four years.

"The financial burden of no longer having two incomes to support our family made me have doubts about my decision to return to college," Clement said. "I cannot explain how much I appreciate receiving this scholarship. It will assist in lessening the financial burden of my senior year."

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