SouthEast Bank Contributes $28,000 Toward Scholarships for Southern Students
How to pay for college can be a heavy topic around the dinner table of families with students nearing high school graduation, and for many others who have already made the leap of faith to attend but still have doubts about the dollars and cents of it all. But watching a local business commit money toward making education more affordable brings great relief to parents and students alike who witness this investment and approach higher education with renewed faith in its ability to open doors toward a brighter future.
SouthEast Bank, which was founded in 2002 and includes 11 locations in Tennessee, began partnering with Southern Adventist University in 2011; it has increased its level of scholarship funding every year since. During an October luncheon held at one of the bank’s branches close to campus, four Southern students were awarded scholarships of $7,000 each: freshman Jesse Darwin, sophomore Joelle Kanyana, junior Caitlyn Bartlett, and senior Keightee Weeks.
The scholarships, which have additional criteria beyond grades, are generally given to students majoring in business, finance, or accounting. When the partnership began four years ago, bank administrators saw clearly how the program would make a difference in the lives of students and envisioned it freeing them up to experience college more fully, with less time spent working and worrying about finances. Testimonies show that to be accurate.
“I was prepared to work a lot on campus and take out student loans, but because of this scholarship I have not needed to borrow any money since I started at Southern,” Bartlett said. “You can imagine the reaction at my house when I found out about it. My family and I cried and thanked the Lord for His blessings!”
Example of ServiceAnd the example this bank has put forth of investing in its community is not lost on the Southern students who receive these scholarships. Observing firsthand the benefits of corporate philanthropy has inspired them to give back to others, both now and after graduation.
“Because of SouthEast Bank, I won’t have loans to pay off after graduation,” Bartlett said. “God has given me so much, I will use what He has given me to help others.”
For Kanyana, this scholarship pushes her to be not just a good student at Southern, but also a good member of the community.
“Chattanoogans are generous people; many of its recent projects have been from private grants rather than government money,” Kanyana said. “As a result, the city is ripe with opportunities! I get to partake in them, and give back alongside them. My ability to be close to a city like this is another verification that Southern is where I should be right now.”
Students also see a generous community spirit in the leadership modeled by professors and administrators on campus. The School of Business organizes service-learning projects such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, where students offer free tax return preparation for low-income residents and seniors.
Ongoing gifts of this size from a local business, especially one without Seventh-day Adventist affiliation, say a lot about Southern’s strong relationships with area organizations and leaders. Linda White, senior vice president for SouthEast Bank, is a member of the School of Business Advisory Board at Southern, but beyond that the financial partnership is entirely organic.
“Their investment in Southern provides affirmation that we produce high-quality graduates that SouthEast Bank would like to stay in our community,” said Mark Hyder, JD, dean for Southern’s School of Business.