David Shelton ’66 BE equates awarding scholarships to investing in the stock market.
Then consider the Greater Atlanta UK Alumni Club bullish on Anna von Schmeling.
The UK senior, who graduates in May with a bachelor’s degree in integrated strategic communications, von Schmeling is the only student the club has awarded a scholarship for all four years.
The Kennesaw, Georgia, native is a tour guide for the UK Visitor’s Center. She led a group from the club on a tour around campus when they were in Lexington for the men’s basketball game against Tennessee on Feb. 16.
“It was definitely a special experience. They were so generous to donate to my scholarship. And they’re alums, so it’s different talking to them about campus than it is incoming freshmen or families. A lot of alums are donors, and they’ve seen the campus grow over the years and are personally invested in that,” says von Schmeling, who connected with the club at its annual student sendoff before her freshman year. “That was a great way to meet other students and a lot of Atlanta alumni. We’ve just had a good relationship ever since. I have spoken at their sendoff events, so I’ve been able to develop relationships with other students and alumni over the years.”
Being one of five children in her extended family currently in college, von Schmeling knows how much that scholarship means to her and her family.
“I felt very privileged to come to UK. It was my dream school,” she says. “Not too many students get to go to their dream school. I’m incredibly grateful for the support they’ve given me over these four years. For me to not have to worry about my finances has taken a load off of my shoulders.”
Shelton says it has been a rewarding experience seeing von Schmeling develop into the outstanding young woman she’s become.
“She’s someone that has been successful, and it just makes you proud. She’s quite a young lady. We’re so proud of what she’s accomplished and to have been a little part of that,” he says. “She really relates to students and she’s just a charming young lady. Anna will be successful in whatever she chooses to do. She has a drive and is determined to be successful. It’s tremendous to see how much confidence she has gained in four years. She’s the only person we’ve supported for four years and it makes you want to do more.
“It was just a special moment to tour the campus and have her lead the tour (along with fellow Atlanta-area native Caiti Griffiths). She led the tour with such ease and confidence. It was kind of like she was paying the club back for its investment. We talk to other clubs about the satisfaction you get from this investment. And it is like an investment. You buy a stock low, and when you watch it go high it’s very rewarding. That’s how we feel about her. It’s always nice to have someone thank you for what you’ve done for them. She has gone out of her way to tell us it wasn’t something she took lightly.”
She has always felt a responsibility to make an impact on campus, and von Schmeling knows her scholarship has helped make that possible.
“Whether it was the organizations I was involved with or volunteering in the community — lots of people invested in me, so I feel it has been important to invest in the community here,” says von Schmeling, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, who has also worked at the campus radio station WRFL among her many activities. “It was an absolute joy to show the Atlanta club around. I think going to UK is special, and I don’t think a lot of universities have as supportive a fan base as here. When I wear something UK, you immediately have a connection to someone wherever you meet them.”
Shelton, the past national president of UK Alumni Association, says that joy is returned in kind by the club.
“Ambassador is a perfect description for her,” Shelton says. “Not only for the club, but for the entire university.”
To learn more about the UK Alumni Scholarship Program, go to www.ukalumni.net/scholarships. During 2017-2018, the UK Alumni Association and UK Alumni Clubs are providing over 150 students with scholarships, ranging from $500-2,500. These awards are available through an application process that is independent of the need-based financial aid process.
— Story by Hal Morris