by Taylor Bryant
The University of West Georgia held its second annual Presidential Scholarship Gala on Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Campus Center Ballroom. A total of over $75,000 was raised for need-based and gap scholarships for UWG students, an increase of $20,000 from last year’s gala proceeds.
Nearly 250 guests arrived at the ‘20s themed event in their best ‘20s formal attire. UWG President Dr. Kyle Marrero began the program with a welcome, sharing the importance of scholarship support for transforming student lives and futures.
“I am delighted to be part of such a giving network of supporters where community, faculty, staff, and alumni come together for a single cause – to raise funds for need-based student scholarships,” said Dr. Marrero. “The support of our sponsors and campus constituencies provides the opportunity to transform student lives and foster student success.”
The speaker of the evening was UWG alumnus and trustee Bill Esslinger, Jr. ’93 who shared his generational ties to UWG, encouraging attendees to support student scholarships.
“Scholarships bring students to UWG who might have gone to another institution; they bring students here who might not have had the opportunity to attend any institution,” said Esslinger.
During his speech, Esslinger announced the establishment and endowment of the Jackie Esslinger Honorary Scholarship in the Tanner Health System School of Nursing in honor of his mother who worked full-time to put herself through nursing school while raising four children.
“I believe we all have a duty to serve our university,” said Esslinger. “UWG has given so much to us: our education, our student economy, our interns, our employees, our doctors, nurses, and accountants, and generations of future professionals. Let’s serve our university and our students through much needed scholarships, and our students will be here to serve us in the future.”
Following Esslinger’s speech, Evan Fowler, UWG student and recipient of the Professor W. Glenn Esslinger Memorial Scholarship expressed his gratitude to the Esslinger family for their generosity and support. He shared his experiences of performing chemistry research under the supervision of UWG faculty, partaking in international travel to provide medical treatment to orphans, and serving in leadership roles in health-based student organizations.
“It is because of this generosity that it is possible for driven young individuals like me to better ourselves through education, allowing us to reach our greatest potential,” said Evan.
In addition, 13 UWG students were spotlighted around the room and shared how scholarships impact their academic careers. Dr. Marrero gave closing remarks, inviting everyone back for the third annual Presidential Scholarship Gala. The program was followed by live music and dancing.
“Each year brings more students to UWG, with new dreams and heightened aspirations,” said Dr. Marrero. “We look forward to supporting these students on an ongoing basis through our annual scholarship gala event.”