My father passed away from cancer when I was nine years old, leaving my mom to raise four children by herself. We scraped and saved, and there were many nights when my mom couldn’t be at home until late because she was working. I am not trying to give you a sob story, and I know I didn’t have it hard compared to so many other people.
However, the moment that Wake Forest caught my eye, I had to be serious with myself. My family could not afford it. And that’s where all of you donors come in — your support makes the impossible happen.
I was blessed with athletic skills and was offered the Grover and Peggy Mims Athletic Endowment Fund. The look on my mom’s face was priceless. Not only could she rest at ease, but she would be able to come watch me play soccer!
My Wake Forest experience did not let me down one bit. It has literally become home to me. My professors have challenged me to give my best and more in every single paper and test. They have not settled for mediocrity. My coaches have helped me develop leadership and teamwork skills that will last me the rest of my life. The friends I have met here have shown me more friendship and support than I knew could exist.
Over my four years I have had two knee surgeries, one torn muscle, and one broken bone, and have not been able to make it through one season. So many people have said “Give it up, kid” or “Maybe you should just move on!” But when my coach offered me the opportunity to come back for one more year, there was no way I could walk away from Wake Forest. It has been the experience of a lifetime.
Needless to say, my scholarship from the Grover and Peggy Mims Athletic Endowment Fund has made multiple dreams of mine come true. I was able to come to one of the best academic universities in the nation. I had the opportunity to play at some other colleges, but the academics at Wake Forest really made this school the obvious choice. I have been able to play the sport that makes my eyes light up and my heart jump.
And, after completing my Masters in Education, I will be able to teach kids with such passion that they know they can come to college no matter what the circumstances. I don’t know if you know the movie, “Pay it Forward,” but I am in such debt to Mr. and Mrs. Mims, and I plan to pay that gift forward with all my heart for the rest of my life.
Kristina Hanley, from Hickory, NC, was a member of the women’s soccer team. She graduated in 2008 with a degree in psychology and in 2009 with a master’s in social studies education.