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Top UCPS scholarship recipient starts college today

2009 Piedmont High School graduate Amanda Elzey, who ranked number one in her class, was recently presented an academic excellence award by her principal Jonathan Bowers during Piedmont Cluster’s Awards Ceremony. Elzey was the top scholarship recipient in Union County Public Schools, bringing in $2.5 million in scholarship offers.

Going to college is an expensive proposition, often limiting the choices of those who want to continue their education. Applying for scholarships, however, can offset or even eliminate that financial burden on the student and the family. 
   
One 2009 Piedmont High School graduate, Amanda Elzey, could write a paper on how to get a lot of scholarship offers, receiving more than some entire senior classes. Amanda received approximately $2.5 million in scholarship offers from about 50 universities from across the United States. The largest offer came from the University of Texas at Dallas in the amount of  $100,000, which would have been administered over a four-year period.
   
She accepted the offer of $60,000 from Campbell University in Buies Creek, which pays about $15,000 each year of the approximately $20,000 annual tuition. She also is getting a few other scholarships, which supplements the remaining tuition and fees due.
   
“I applied to more than 50 schools because I had no idea where I wanted to go and I wanted a lot of options,” Amanda said from her dorm at Campbell. “I got a lot of merit scholarships. It was totally proportional to the number of schools I applied to.”
   
Piedmont High School guidance counselor Kathy Cooper knows exactly why Amanda got so many offers from so many universities. “It meant she had to work hard, and took advantage of every opportunity she could find,” Cooper said. “She was highly organized. She kept up with deadlines; got her applications in on time. She didn’t wait for them to come to her. She looked for them. People have to be proactive and look for those kinds of things.”
   
If she had it to do all over again, however, Amanda said she would start the search for the right university much earlier in her high school career. “I wish I had been more focused in my junior year – actually, throughout high school. I thought high school would never end, so I didn’t worry about ‘after high school.’ But, it did end.”
   
As for advice to future college-bound high school graduates, Amanda said her path is not necessarily the one she would recommend. “You need to try to figure out what you want before you go after colleges,” she said. “Applying everywhere didn’t help me; it confused me. In my junior year, I figured college was two years off, so I didn’t want to think about it. By my senior year, it was really too late.”
    
She said she applied to most of the schools during the College Application Week in November 2008, which allows students to apply to North Carolina colleges and universities through the College Foundation of North Carolina with no application fee.
   
As for knowing which universities she wanted to apply to, Amanda said Cooper, her high school counselor, gave out lists of schools and assisted in the entire application process.
   
The counselors at her school must be doing something right. For the second year running, Piedmont High School students have far outpaced other UCPS high schools in the amount of scholarships offered to its college-bound seniors. This year, 80 of its 180 college-bound seniors received $14,770,618 in scholarship offers.  Last year, 92 of its 182 college-bound seniors received $10,151,066 in scholarship offers.
   
“It’s a friendly competition among the graduating classes,” Cooper said. “This year’s senior class wants to exceed last year’s senior class. And each year, they’ve beaten the previous year. Each class wants to be the best. It’s the spirit of competitiveness. We’re just a little school. We have to work hard. We try to give them a lot of encouragement.”
   
As for why Amanda chose Campbell University, she said she liked the overall package the school had to offer, and with only about 3,000 undergraduates on campus, the small size of the university was appealing.
   
All her hard work is coming to fruition when classes begin Wednesday, August 19, 2009. “I’m excited, but I’m kind of nervous, too,” she said.  “My schedule isn’t ready yet, and I haven’t been able to meet with my advisor.”
   
Amanda is majoring in history and hopefully in some form of government studies. “I hope to go into pre law,” she said. “I may consider a career in politics, but I would want to work behind the scenes.”
   
Amanda Elzey, 18, finished number one in her senior class at Piedmont. She is the daughter of Jerry and Jan Elzey who make their home in the Fairview Community of Union County.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Aug 19, 2009 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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