An Investment in Inspiration
By Albert Raboteau
A scholarship helps a young woman become the first person in her large family to graduate college. She makes the most of her time at Virginia Tech, and is inspired to help others further their educations as well.
That is the story of Rebekah Maddox. It's also the story of Mary Nolen Blackwood, who endowed a scholarship that Maddox held.
"Someone helped me when I was first starting college," said Blackwood, the first in her family of seven children to attend college, "and hopefully the recipients of this scholarship will someday be able to help someone else."
Maddox, who has 15 siblings, plans to do just that. The senior, who in May will graduate with a degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish, is interested in researching different teaching methods from other countries and using that knowledge to help motivate students.
"I would really like to give back," Maddox said. "I feel that so many people have given to me that I want to do the same. And not just in the U.S. I'd like to go to other countries to help with orphanages and churches and start schools."
"Teaching is in my heart," Maddox continued. "I've wanted to teach since I was 3. I used to teach my little brothers and sisters, but now I want to be able to teach in the way that I can be most effective."
Since entering Virginia Tech, Maddox, 22, has taken advantage of opportunities to develop her leadership ability and broaden her horizons. She is a resident advisor, has worked with psychology Professor Scott Geller on alcohol related research, has studied in Mexico, and has gone on mission trips to both Spain and Ghana.
The Mary Nolen Blackwood Scholarship, established in 2005 as the first of its kind in the psychology department, is given each year to one or more psychology majors who show academic excellence in their studies, leadership, and involvement in the discipline of psychology.
A 1973 graduate from the psychology program, Blackwood is also giving back to her school by serving as campaign chair for the College of Science in Virginia Tech's ongoing fundraising campaign.
Within the $1 billion Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future there is a $144 million goal for improving the undergraduate experience by increasing scholarships, improving facilities, and launching multicultural initiatives.
Maddox, who credits scholarships for allowing her to expand her ambitions, said people should view giving scholarship funds as "not just a donation, it's an investment. The money they can give to somebody here can totally change their life. It can inspire them to fulfill their dreams."