Power Their Promise
We all want to leave the world better than we found it. Here’s one way to do it.
As a high school student, Jonathan Luines ’26 had plenty of reasons to be drawn to Furman, among them, the university’s prestige. But one reason proved crucial: the Joseph Vaughn Scholarship.
“It was definitely the deciding factor in bringing me to Furman,” says Luines, of Spartanburg, South Carolina. “On top of everything else that’s good about this school is definitely this scholarship.”
The award honors Furman’s first Black undergraduate student, Joseph A. Vaughn ’68, and is given to a Black student who demonstrates financial need, moral character and academic promise. Luines has declared a business major but, like many first-year students, he’d like to explore a variety of disciplines – in his case, physics and computer science. He also hopes to join the Swim Club, participate in May Experience, and study away in the Middle East or perhaps North Africa and China. As for his postgraduation life, Luines can see himself starting a business, entering politics and working in youth-leadership training – plus other ventures: “I’d like to start an aquarium like the one in Atlanta,” he adds.
Luines is just one Furman student whose opportunities have soared because of one of Furman’s donor-funded scholarships.
A FIRST-GENERATION STUDENT DETERMINED TO HELP OTHERS
Britany V. Bonilla-Martinez ’24, who received the Herman Lay Scholarship, was born in Costa Rica but came to the United States when she was 5 and then mostly lived in Greenville. Because she is considered an international student, she couldn’t apply for government-funded scholarships, and thought she would not have been able to attend college. The Lay Scholarship, named for the potato chip pioneer who attended Furman in the 1920s, is awarded to students who show intellectual curiosity, potential for success at Furman, and school and community involvement, among other attributes.
“Getting a private scholarship at Furman was a huge blessing for me,” says Bonilla-Martinez. “My scholarship opened many doors that I didn’t think were possible, and I can now say that I am a first-generation student following my dreams. Furman has provided me access to many resources and has allowed me to pursue my interests in medicine through my classes and my internships.”
Bonilla-Martinez, who is majoring in health science and minoring in medicine, health and culture, has taken part in Mosaic, a student club that promotes diversity and inclusion, the Hispanic Outreach and Latinx Awareness organization, Alpha Epsilon Delta for those studying pre-health, the Multicultural Association of Pre-Health Students, and Delta Gamma. She worked in student housing her sophomore year, was in the Medical Experience Academy and served as a MedEx ambassador and worked as a camp counselor with Bridges to a Brighter Future. This past spring, she volunteered at Prisma Health’s children’s hospital through the child life specialist department.
Bonilla-Martinez hopes to become a physician assistant with a special focus on the hurdles that some communities face. Through clinical experiences, she saw how language barriers, socioeconomic status, reduced access to resources, and lower health literacy affect the health of different populations.
“My hope is to not only be able to bridge some of these gaps for my patients, but also advocate for them and help create a safe atmosphere where they can feel comfortable speaking up and being active participants in their care plans,” she says.
‘THE POWER OF EMPATHY’
Addison Smith ’22, from Mobile, Alabama, received a Heller scholarship, named in honor of Max and Trude Heller and awarded annually to leaders of the Heller Service Corps, which focuses on community service and offers both on-campus and community volunteer opportunities to Furman students. Smith was also involved in the Shucker Leadership Institute, Furman’s Orientation Staff and The Riley Institute Advance Team, while also serving in the Student Government Association as class president and as an admissions ambassador. Smith interned with McGuire Woods Consulting, part of Carly Fiorina Enterprises, and did research with a Furman professor on the effects of COVID-19 on asylum seekers immigrating to the United States from Latin America. As the student organizations coordinator at Furman, he advises and mentors students who participate in various groups.
And throughout this academic year, Smith has developed a five-year strategic plan for the Heller Service Corps. This year, he will attend the Duke School of Law.
“While Furman’s academics have prepared me holistically for my current role, I am consistently thankful for the ways Furman taught me the soft skills. Furman has instilled in me a greater appreciation for the power of empathy, the power of reflection, the power of critical thinking, and the power of inter-group dialogue,” says Smith.
“Each of these soft skills has aided me tremendously as I have embarked in the working world.”