Emaleigh Smith ’27, a nursing major at the University of Lynchburg, is featured once again in WSLS 10’s November series, “30 Days of Hope.” In 2017, when the series launched, Smith was among the first foster kids highlighted by the local network. She was 12 at the time.
A few months ago, she received a full scholarship to Lynchburg, presented by President Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar at an event in Roanoke, Virginia.
“To be able to provide Emaleigh this kind of scholarship is what we’re all about at the University of Lynchburg,” Morrison-Shetlar said at the event.
The scholarship was established in 2013 as part of a $7 million gift from the estate of Walter W. Ridgway Jr., a 1948 graduate of Lynchburg College.The fund also supports scholarships for students from Glade Springs Baptist Church and the First Baptist Church in Roanoke.
It’s intended for students like Smith, who was in foster care through HopeTree Family Services, a nonprofit that offers a range of ministries for at-risk children and youth and their families across Virginia.
Each scholarship includes tuition and room and board for four years, valued at over $50,000 per year, or $200,000 over four years.
Smith is the first in her family — as far back as she can remember — to attend college. A few weeks ago, she spoke with WSLS 10’s Jenna Zibton about breaking a generations-long cycle of poverty and teen pregnancies.
At 18, Smith knows what she wants — to be a nurse — and is determined to get there.
“I really appreciate the opportunity of this scholarship because I didn’t think that I was going to be able to have enough money to come to college,” she told Zibton.
“I just really like science and the human body. Being able to incorporate helping others and science together is amazing. It’s [the degree]; it’s just so complex that you can do multiple things with it, and it doesn’t go out of demand. It’s a job that will always keep me going.”
Watch the full video here.