Natalie Ford (’12)

Receiving scholarship gifts made college choice easy

Natalie FordI never could imagine myself as a Demon Deacon when I dreamed of going to college, and this is how I got to where I am today.

I come from Hamptonville, a very small rural town just about 30 minutes west of Winston-Salem nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Being from such a small place I went to a small high school. There I worked on being a straight A student and was involved in every activity possible. I developed an interest in the medical field, but didnt know where I wanted to go with it.

In my early years, my father injured his back on the job, became disabled, and has had 15 back surgeries in attempt to alleviate the pain. When this didnt work, he was chosen to have a morphine/baclofen pump implanted into his abdomen to have medicine given at even intervals throughout the day. This was very helpful and allowed my dad to get back to his day-to-day life.

That was until my sophomore year in high school. My father went back for his normal doctors appointment to have the medicine refilled in his pump. The days that followed seemed very uncanny with my father sleeping more than usual and once he did wake up, he would be groggy and made no sense to anyone. After several trips to the doctor to see what had happened, it was determined that he had received 1/4 of the morphine he was taking and 4000 times the normal dose of baclofen. In essence he was overdosing and withdrawing at the same time. Much damage was caused and some even irreversible which affected the way in which he lived life. My mom during this time tried to balance the responsibilities of her job, my family, my sister and my sporting and school events, and all of my dads doctors appointments.

During this time college applications due dates were fast approaching. Having the grades, I knew I could get in to a pretty good school, but was unsure of the price tag that came along with them. I applied to Carolina and Wake Forest just to see if I could get in. I sent the applications in and received the results first from Carolina during a high school basketball game. I was excited and ran around the gym telling everyone that that was the college I would be attending.

A few weeks later I was surprised to receive a letter from Wake Forest saying that I had been accepted there as well. So at this time I still was UNC bound. I then proceeded to look up the tuition rates and other financial information. My parents did as well. They said that there was no way that Wake Forest could happen, because we just didnt have that kind of money. But at least I could say I got accepted. I was disappointed being held back to due financial matters; however I had resigned myself that I would attend Carolina.

About a month after financial aid packages came, and Carolina offered many loans. I was starting to understand why college was so financially difficult. At the time, the tuition rate was approximately $16,000, and I was given $4,000 in loans and $1,000 in scholarships. Then Wake Forests financial aid package came. I was ready to laugh and toss it to the side, but thats not what happened. I opened the letter and was surprised to see scholarship money totaling $39,000 with only $4,000 in loans!

Within my Wake Forest financial package, I had received the Bernard McLeod Jr. Scholarship , and receiving this gift made my college decision very easy. My fate was now to be a Demon Deacon, where I would soon bleed black and gold.

Once coming to campus and seeing Wake Forest I fell in love with it and everything it has to offer. Now after having one year behind me I know that this is the place for me. I have been intellectually stimulated and love the small classes in which every one of my professors knows me by name. I cant imagine being anywhere else, especially Carolina.

The detrimental situation that occurred with my father wasnt all negative. Having watched the doctors who have worked diligently with my father to get him back to normal health has inspired me to desire a medical profession myself. To begin this aspiration, I was recently accepted to participate in an undergraduate research fellowship.

Over the summer, I was allowed to work with doctors at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center to learn more about childhood leukemia and possible causes. This also happens to be where I perform my work study job, which is also part of my financial aid. These are just the beginning steps of my medical professional journey to continue the passion to help others, as many have had for my father.

I would like to sincerely thank McLeods for allowing me to begin to fulfill my dreams of becoming a physician by their generous donations. I am truly forever grateful. I also want to thank all of the other donors who have given to students like me who would not have had a chance to have a Wake Forest education without your help.

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