Welcome to the Pack, 2024 Class of Centennial Scholars!
By Devayani Taywade Patil
We are excited to introduce you to the 2024 Class of Centennial Scholarship recipients. The Centennial Scholarship program was established by the North Carolina Textile Foundation (NCTF) in 1999 as a part of the Wilson College of Textiles Centennial Celebration. The Centennial Scholarship provides each student a minimum of $15,000 per year for four years.
These scholarships are awarded to incoming first-year students majoring in one of the college’s five unique degree programs in both the Department of Textile and Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM) and the Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry and Science (TECS). Scholarship recipients are required to submit an application that is read by Wilson College faculty and staff, Centennial alumni, NCTF Board Members and other textile industry members. Fifty-four finalists were invited to campus for on-campus interviews in which all finalists were awarded a scholarship. Centennial awards are based on their academic achievement in high school, proven and potential leadership qualities, extracurricular activities and unique life experiences.
The scholarship also provides $7,500 in enrichment funds that can be used for study abroad, leadership programs, career explorations or other approved enrichment activities.
This year’s class of scholars have all worked extremely hard to get where they are, and every one of them hopes to make the world a better place. Join us in welcoming them to the Wilson College of Textiles family.
The Wilson College of Textiles is proud to say we have the largest per-student college-based scholarship program at NC State. Learn more about the Centennial Scholarship program and all of our scholarship opportunities.
Logan Adkins is from Wilson, North Carolina, where she attended Ralph L. Fike High School and has been awarded the Dunlap – Floopy / Beaunit Centennial Scholarship. She plans to study Fashion and Textile Management (FTM) with a concentration in brand management and marketing because she has a passion for the apparel and textile industry and its corresponding entrepreneurial spirit.
Combining both aspects of the fashion and textile industry with business skills, the FTM major was the perfect match. “I have always been captivated by the diligence and diversity of the business community,” Adkins said. “Simultaneously, I have also been enthralled by the empowerment that the creative fashion industry offers.”
As a Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) attendee, she had quite an informative week where she learned about business management in the fashion and textile industry. “During STEP, I was enlightened with the vision of pursuing both of my passions and was introduced to a unique community of creative, collaborative scholars who not only shared and appreciated my passions but spoke my language.”
Coming from a rural area where fashion was not overwhelmingly appreciated as an art form, Adkins’ interests were only shared among a small group. Attending STEP, however, she found other students who shared her same passions. “Through our common interests, I was able to establish multiple relationships built on the foundation of innovation and creativity,” she said, reflecting on the experience. “The community created by the Wilson College of Textiles is inclusive, diverse and respected, and I am excited to be a part of it.”
A scholar-athlete, Adkins believes that her drive and desire to achieve greatness will take her far in her studies. “As a female who shares a great passion for the sports community, I am determined to shatter stereotypes and leave my mark on the industry,”she said. “I trust that my competitiveness on the tennis court and in the classroom will translate into the business world, allowing me to compete for top positions within the industry.”
Adkins held many leadership positions in high school including president of National Beta Club, legislative president of Youth and Government, president of the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing, and social media manager of the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy.
However, some of the most impactful experiences have been on the tennis court. A four-year varsity team member and three-time captain, Adkins has been able to connect and lead others in a competitive yet empowering atmosphere. With such a time commitment, the most rewarding part was to be a part of the team and see its growth
“Tennis equipped me with time management skills that allowed me to manage both the rigorous course load of the International Baccalaureate Program as well as an intense athletic schedule,” said Adkins. “I have been able to instruct teammates while imparting lessons in sportsmanship and integrity, while also aiding the development of my high school and community programs.”
Four years from now, Adkins sees herself as a proud and well-prepared graduate of the Wilson College of Textiles. She’s already thinking of pursuing a career with powerhouse brands like Nike, Lululemon or Sheri Hill – given their empowering company cultures and her passion for athletics company – or continuing her education through graduate school.
“Regardless of where my career leads me, I hope to be able to leave my mark on the apparel and fashion industry,“ Adkins noted, “and generously contribute back to Wilson College of Textiles to benefit students in ways like I am being supported thus far.”
Lilly Barozzini, originally from Glen Gardner, New Jersey where she attended Voorhees High School, now calls Holly Springs, North Carolina her home. Awarded the American & Efird Centennial Scholarship, she plans to study Fashion and Textile Design (FTD) to pursue her love for design and fashion –and learn about the importance of design, the impact of textiles and how she can personally make a difference in the world.
“I am excited to live and work with those that share this same passion,” Barozzini said. “I want to collaborate with others and take our individual strengths within fashion and textiles to learn, grow and accomplish amazing achievements together.”
Barozzini discovered the Wilson College of Textiles by researching its website where she learned that it offered one of the top fashion and textiles programs. Later, when she attended Polymer Camp during summer 2018 and then the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP) last year, she realized all the fantastic opportunities the college had to offer. After STEP, Lilly knew she wanted to be a part of the tight-knit community that the Wilson College of Textiles has successfully established. Plus, the wide ranging options offered through the FTD curriculum will help expand her knowledge not only in fashion design but in sustainability, textiles and technology in the fashion industry.
“I am so excited to work alongside others who are just as motivated and passionate to make a difference in the world of fashion,” said Barozzini, and I am confident that the Wilson College of Textiles is the perfect place for me to grow and develop over the next four years!”
Barozzini believes that her positive attitude and willingness to work with others will be an asset to the Wilson College, “I plan to bring my love to serve others to college,” she said. “ I want to grow as a leader and inspire others with my ideas to make a positive impact on NC State and our world.”
That desire was evident in high school, where Barozzini was quite involved as president of Family, Career, Community and Leaders of America (FCCLA), captain of the volleyball team and member of both the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society.
As FCCLA’s president, she brought many organizations from all around the world and in her community to her high school including Little Dresses for Africa for which she created dresses using donated fabrics and materials. Additionally, she also worked with Project Linus to make fleece blankets for children in New Jersey foster care programs and hospitals.
Community service is important to Barozzini, also collaborating with the local Meals on Wheels to make monthly centerpieces and goodie bags; with the Woodland Wildlife Organization to make stuffed animals for reduced wildlife; and with her school to help plan and organize a health and wellness fair.
Barozzini also cites her involvement with the Unified Program as one of the most impactful experiences in high school, supporting special education students in gym class and cafeteria and assisting in their general school lessons. All of the students she interacted with changed her perspective for the better and showed her that every success, no matter how small, should be celebrated.
Building on all her high school experiences, Barozzini Believes that it is “only the beginning of me using my passion for helping make the world a better place.” She is excited for what the future holds in terms of her degree and her community.
“I will be so appreciative of all the friendships I have made at NC State and all of those individuals who have made a positive impact on me and my development ,” she said. “I am confident that I will have grown my design skills and that I will have a clear vision of who I am as a designer and as a person.”
Over these next four years, Barozzini hopes to grow as a designer, form strong friendships, travel abroad to immerse herself in various cultures, obtain an internship and most importantly, make a positive impact among her peers and professors. Knowing that life moves quickly, she is already thinking about life after graduation: a career that incorporates sustainability aspects, especially in upcycling fabrics and creating biodegradable textiles or adaptive apparel.
“I want to reach out beyond the runway and make a positive impact on both our planet and those with disabilities,” she said. The amount of waste we create from our desire to consume has created a problem that I want to help solve in my future.” The Centennial Scholarship offers a huge opportunity and Barozzini is honored to receive one. . “It gives me the confidence and drives me to work harder and to set a positive example for my peers,” she affirmed. “I have a passion for service and I am privileged to be able to continue serving with like-minded peers at NC State.”
Karina Bhatia hails from Morrisville, North Carolina, where she graduated from Enloe High School. She has been awarded the Jacques Weber Centennial Scholarship and is pursuing a degree in Textile Technology with a concentration in medical textiles leveraging the interdisciplinary nature of the major.
Prior to learning about the textile industry, Bhatia dreamed of becoming a doctor. After attending the Summer Textile Exploration Program, she discovered that the medical textiles concentration is the perfect marriage between biology and technology – evident by seeing labs and interacting with professors. Most importantly, however, she noted that “it was the students and hearing their experiences and advice that captured me.”
Bhatia wants to use her creative and technical skills in medicine so she can make a direct impact on humanity, and with this major,she can “create devices and products that directly impact and improve bodily function – my dream career.”.
Aside from its plethora of resources, Bhatia chose the Wilson College of Textiles because it felt like home. It also challenged her to grow as a person and student. Drawn to the college by its emphasis on preparing students for industry and promoting community, she is excited to call herself a member of the Wilson College family.
“Besides being the No. 1 textiles institution in the world, I believe that the Wilson College of Textiles will give me many opportunities and countless resources to help me achieve my career aspirations,” she said.”
As a first-generation Indian-American, Bhatia believes she brings a unique and diverse background including her global experiences. Living in China for four years and becoming fluent in Mandarin has helped her become more knowledgeable about different cultures.
Actively involved in high school, Bhatia was a local changemaker. She was a part of the Enloe High School Equity Initiative, a team of eight students selected to develop solutions to socioeconomic and racial inequity within the school and community and ways to present them to district, regional and state-level educators.
Bhatia also developed leadership skills and unique thinking capacities through conversations in Dialogue, a club committed to cultivating an appreciation for honest and empathetic dialogue among diverse voices. She was also the co-president of Enloe Dance pe Chance and the Bollywood Fusion Dance team.
“These activities had a lasting impact on my character and worldview, and allowed me to grow as a thoughtful, effective, and diverse leader in the roles I fulfilled,” said Bhatia, who, outside of high school, made time to earn a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
Four years from now, Bhatia hopes to pursue a master’s degree or work at a global textile company. Ideally, she wants to work at a cutting-edge biotechnology company in research and development to create and innovate medical textiles. “I hope that my dream of building textiles, whether it be creating masks to aid in a global pandemic, updating implantable devices or designing efficient products, truly produces a tangible, positive effect for people,” she said.
Being named a Centennial scholar is a huge honor for Bhatia. “It relieves the financial responsibility for my parents, who also have my two siblings to put through college,” she acknowledged.
She knows that the scholarship and the Wilson College of Textiles will provide networking and leadership opportunities. “Knowing that others have invested in my future and are willing to provide support for me to chase my dreams not only creates drive within me, but lets me know that the Wilson College of Textiles cares about my future,” said Bhatia. In the future, she hopes to do her part in becoming a leader, giving back to the community and educating people about sustainability in textiles. She is incredibly thankful to have the chance and ability to do so.
Alexandra (Rosie) Fisher
Rosie Fisher is from Alexandria, Virginia, where she attended TC Williams High School. Awarded the Jacques Weber Centennial Scholarship, plans on studying Textile Engineering motivated by her interest and passion for engineering which stems from robotics. The most appealing aspect of the major is the positive impact she can make on the environment.
“Textiles are an essential part of everyday life and are a hugely profitable industry, but that profit is not without cost,” Fisher said. She wants to put her knowledge to the test and develop industry solutions such as reducing the massive water usage required to make a single cotton t-shirt, the effect on soil due to the use of pesticides and insecticides.
Fisher decided to join the Wilson College of Textiles after learning about it through alumni and experiencing the Summer Textile Exploration Program (STEP), in the textile engineering group, she saw the labs, learned about fabrics and was introduced to the field of wearable technology. Additionally, she was able to talk to Dr. Jess Jur about different sustainable projects in the textile industry such as Nike Grind.
“I selected the Wilson College of Textiles not only because it is the No. 1 textile institution in the world, but it will give me the best opportunity to make the textile industry more sustainable,” Fisher said.
Coming from a city public school that welcomes students from 114 countries, Fisher embraces the ethnic and cultural diversity of her community. “I believe this upbringing has given me strength in accepting and working with people regardless of their background or perspective,” she said. Understanding the importance of diversity and that various types of perspectives create the best solutions, Fisher will use her ability to work with different groups of people to contribute to solving global issues.
In high school, Fisher was involved with a variety of activities including the FIRST Robotics Competition team for which she served as community outreach team lead, chief operations officer and nontechnical vice president. Through these leadership positions, she organized and ran the team’s first summer camp, planned various events and oversaw fundraising, marketing and community outreach.”
In addition to robotics, she founded the school’s Students for Environmental Action club, spearheading the project that led to a switch from styrofoam trays to compostable trays – in addition to composting. “Through this club, I was able to create real change within my high school of approximately 4,000 students,” Fisher noted.
Outside of school, Fisher was active in her church, where she designed and created costumes for musicals and participated in Appalachia Service Projects.
After graduation, Fisher hopes to be working in the textile industry with a mission to be more sustainable by creating innovative products and practices.
“I am so grateful to receive the Centennial Scholarship because it allows me to attend an out-of-state school at a more affordable cost and major in something I am passionate about” she said. “
Meredith Gaskill is from Salisbury, North Carolina, where she attended Jesse C. Carson High School. She has been awarded the Park – Centennial Scholarship and plans to study Fashion and Textile Management combining her love for fashion, business, and passion for making people feel beautiful and empowered. She believes she can do this best by utilizing the textile industry and all it offers.
Gaskill chose the Wilson College of Textiles for its many opportunities to learn in the classroom and gain industry experience. Attending the Summer Textile Exploration Program she was able to gauge what it felt like to be a student and she knew this was a place where she could thrive.
As a part of the incoming class, Gaskill will bring her enthusiasm, leadership and strong work ethic to the Wilson College of Textiles in hopes of encouraging her fellow classmates.
Involved with extracurricular activities in high school, Gaskill served in various leadership positions including President of Interact Club, a group focused on service in the community, founded the club HERoes, a women’s empowerment group. She cheered on the Varsity Cheerleading team for her junior and senior year and also was involved in Student Council and Fellowship of Christian Athletes throughout the entirety of high school. She also served as Senior Advisor for the North Carolina State Board of Education.
In four years, Meredith sees herself applying a world-class education from the Wilson College of Textiles into a career in the fashion industry or pursuing further education. She hopes to work in marketing or branding with a small business and possibly become a buyer for a larger corporation in the future.
For Gaskill, receiving the Centennial Scholarship means everything, “I could attend the college of my dreams and afford many additional opportunities that wouldn’t have been available without the generosity of the North Carolina Textile Foundation and donors that make this scholarship possible.”
Ashley Lamb comes to the Wilson College of Textiles from Cary, North Carolina, where she graduated from the Cary Classical Arts & Sciences Academy. She has been awarded the ITT/Roger Milliken Centennial Scholarship and is pursuing a degree in Polymer and Color Chemistry, following her interest in chemistry and its application in the medical, health and research fields.
“The polymer and color chemistry major allows me to apply this knowledge very practically and develop better quantitative reasoning and laboratory skills,” Lamb said. With hopes to gain knowledge and experiences that will enable her to make a direct impact on many lives.
Lamb attended NC State’s open house and spoke to a Wilson College of Textiles student ambassador about her major, polymer and color chemistry. Considering how well the coursework aligned with her strong chemistry interest, she “became fascinated with the college and its program and applications.”
Lamb chose to attend the Wilson College of Textiles because she knew she wanted to be a part of a small college and desired the access to the opportunities and resources that were available at larger universities like NC State. “I look forward to being part of the Wilson College family, expanding my knowledge of textiles and chemistry and contributing to the groundbreaking research performed here,” she said.
Throughout her time in high school, Ashley valued volunteering and community service. Accumulating more than 2,000 service hours volunteering in various educational outreach and service activities in underserved rural and inner-city communities of North Carolina, she loved igniting a spark in science for others. Additionally, Lamb served as a youth leader at her church.
“Helping elementary children and serving seniors in my area’s nursing homes confirmed my passion for caregiving,” she said. “I have grown significantly through leadership positions among a variety of ages and backgrounds, and I trust these experiences have better prepared me to make a lasting contribution to the Wilson College of Textiles and NC State,” said Lamb, who looks forward to making an impact on campus and beyond.
In four years, Lamb hopes to begin medical school to become a dedicated caregiver – and an appreciative ambassador of the textiles community. “The first in a century pandemic through which we have all been living has crystallized my plans to pursue medicine in practice and research,”she affirmed.
Lamb has a big heart for reaching the underserved and will seek different opportunities to pay forward the support she has been given.
“I hope that learning and applying the practical applications of textile chemistry to human health will satisfy the interests I have developed through general and organic chemistry and prepare me for the demands of professional school and my career,” Lamb said.
Being named recipient of the ITT/Roger Milliken Centennial scholarship instills an incredible amount of gratitude in Lamb. “The scholarship made it possible for me to attend my hometown university of NC State and continue investing in service to my local community,” she said. “I am humbled to join the Centennial Scholars and to continue to build the legacy. I hope to fulfill these expectations and develop leadership skills that will help me both prepare for my future and make a lasting contribution to the Wilson College of Textiles.”
Maggie McCullough is from Boone, North Carolina, where she attended Watauga High School. Awarded the Mebane Centennial Scholarship, she plans to study Fashion and Textile Management following her childhood interest in sewing and fashion that later carried over into the marketing and business aspect of the industry.
She first learned about the Wilson College of Textiles while researching top fashion and textile programs and ultimately decided this was the place for her after attending the Summer Textile Exploration Program. “After my experiences that week, I knew the Wilson College of Textiles was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life,” she said.
Through her experiences in high school, McCullough discovered her ability to bring people together to focus on a vision and accomplish goals. Among her activities, she served as co-president of both the Fashion Club and the Interact Club, and was a member of DECA, the National Honors Society and the French Honors Society. She also was involved with Playmakers, a competitive theatre troupe, and worked as a ski instructor at Appalachian Ski Mountain.
“I learned quickly that creativity and inclusivity are critical to good leadership. It is about listening, acknowledging, supporting and shepherding a group through the delicate process of building consensus, meeting objectives and accomplishing goals.” she said, reflecting on her extracurricular activities.
During her time in high school, McCullough is honored to be a recipient of the Centennial Scholarship and is looking forward to the leadership training, faculty and mentor support, and service opportunities to give back to NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles.
“The Centennial Scholarship will provide me with even more incentive to strive every day to do my best and serve others.”
Maya Mitchall is from Cary, North Carolina, where she attended Green Hope High School. She has been awarded the McMichael Centennial Scholarship. She plans to study Fashion and Textile Management with a concentration in brand management and marketing, pursuing a major that combines her love for fashion and art with business.
“I love the fact that I can gain skills that are valuable in the industry that are also versatile enough so that I can apply my degree to a lot of possible jobs in the fashion industry,” she explained.
Mitchall first learned about the Wilson College of Textiles during NC State’s Open House where she was able to talk to representatives from the college. She believes that she will bring new and innovative ways to bring people together with her zeal for the apparel industry. “I have loved fashion and have explored creativity in fashion since I was around seven years old, so I have an enthusiasm for showing people all of the amazing things that fashion can offer,”she said.
In high school, Mitchall competed on the volleyball team and was a member of the French Club, Art Club and the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). When she immersed herself deeper into FBLA, she realized that she loved marketing and advertising, which also aided in her college and future career decisions.
In four years, Mitchall hopes to pursue a career in the fashion industry in a big city. She would love to work in fashion marketing or public relations, and is open to exploring other entities of the apparel industry while at the Wilson College of Textiles.
For Mitchall, the opportunity to explore what she wants to do in the future without financial restrictions is what makes Centennial Scholarship unique.
“It allows me to have a clean slate when I graduate from college, and it opens up so many opportunities for me,” she said. “ It also means that I can help my parents save money on my college expenses, allowing them to put more finances into supporting my sister’s future college plans.”
Audrey Simons is from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she attended Sycamore High School. Awarded the Robert E. Smith Centennial Scholarship, she plans to major in Fashion and Textile Management with a concentration in fashion development and product management and minor in French.
While Simons loves the blend of the STEM programs within the design field, she owes her interest in this major to her grandmother. “I began sewing with my grandma during elementary school. When she passed away from cancer, I continued sewing through classes and workshops that carried over into high school.”
Simons selected the Wilson College of Textiles because of its advanced technology and equipment. She also loves that she can learn all parts of the process, from ideation to execution. Aside from the design portion of the fashion industry, she also is interested in other aspects including diversity in the fashion industry, the history and effect on women’s rights, and sustainability.
“Through the fashion development and product management program, I could be a part of the process of creating and selling a garment start to finish, a perfect match for my background, strengths, interests and career goals,” she noted.
Simons first learned about Wilson College at a college fair in her hometown of Cincinnati. What stood out was the representative discussing the degree programs and especially the scholarship opportunities such as the Centennial Scholarships.
“I want to learn about the depth of the textile field and all possible opportunities that are available,” said Simons. “I believe the Wilson College of Textiles is the only place where I can get a wide view of the entire textile industry because of the flexibility and coursework that is available within the Wilson College of Textiles.”
In high school, Simons took every sewing and design class offered. She also designed and created apparel for herself and friends, and was featured in the fashion show. In addition to completing requirements in her high school’s fashion program, she pursued rigorous STEM classes as well. She is eager to find new outlets at the Wilson College of Textiles to express her technical and creative side.
Additionally, Simons also was involved with meaningful service activities. She volunteered for a month as a member of the outdoor work crew at Younglife’s Camp Rockbridge, and also designed in the student-run fashion show, Fashion for the Cure (FFTC).
“I grew tremendously in my confidence, work ethic, and faith at Younglife. The daily hours spent outdoors weed whacking, cleaning and setting up special events were long and unfamiliar but helped create the beauty and details for new campers that I noticed previously at camp” she said.
The FFTC show also served as a personal growth opportunity, challenging Simons with new sewing and design skills to support families of children with cancer, while also connecting her back to her grandmother.
“Since I lost my grandmother to cancer and she was the person who originally taught me to sew, this service event combined many of my passions – my love for sewing, my joy in helping children and my desire to take part in the battle against cancer.”
In four years, Audrey anticipates graduating and applying her knowledge and skills gained from the Wilson College of Textiles and launching her career in the textile industry. “I hope that through my time at the Wilson College of Textiles, I will discover new opportunities and discover the many different types of jobs available within the textile industry,” she said.”
Simons has explored potential career paths, including being a buyer for a large retailer in hopes to one day own her own boutique.
“My vision is to have a space that would fit into the local community, providing not only fashions but a space for friends, families and strangers to interact,” she explained. “I envision it being more than just a storefront selling clothing, but a platform to bring individuals together to see works from local artisans while supporting the talents of individuals from diverse backgrounds and ages. It could also provide a forum for giving back to the community through outreach projects such as clothing donations and exchange programs.”
As a recipient of a Centennial Scholarship, Simons is incredibly grateful for the opportunity to study at the Wilson College of Textiles without a financial burden.
“This scholarship exemplifies both the high academics and focus on textiles that I plan to continue throughout my college studies,” she said. ”Additionally, the scholarship provided by the North Carolina Textile Foundation will ease financial burdens, offset the cost of out-of-state tuition and allow for opportunities to engage in study abroad programs.”
“Receiving this prestigious scholarship is truly an honor and solidifies my plans to continue my education within the textile industry,” said Simons.
Rosa Stancil is from Greensboro, North Carolina, where she attended Walter Hines Page High School. She has been awarded the Cornelson Centennial Scholarship and intends to study Fashion and Textile Management and explore the creative and business side of the fashion industry – particularly the sustainable fashion industry.
Stancil chose the Wilson College of Textiles because of its unique program that allows for forward-thinking. She also knew it would provide her the opportunities and learning experiences necessary to becoming a leader in the fashion industry.
Rosa is thrilled to start her journey at NC State and the Wilson College of Textiles. “I am so passionate about fashion and making it a more sustainable and ethical industry. I can’t wait to bring that passion into my classrooms and learn the information I need to make an impact” she said.
That passion has also driven her to create a blog where she discusses what she has researched and how she plans to make a positive impact. “I am excited to take my prior knowledge into the college and be able to engage in discussions with others who are passionate about the industry as well,” she said.
In high school, Stancil ran cross country, played soccer and held a variety of leadership positions in service-learning clubs such as Key Club and the Greensboro Junior Guild.
“Sports and service have definitely had the most impact in my life and throughout high school,” said Stancil. “Both have taught me how to empathize and serve others as well as be passionate about being part of something bigger than myself.”
In four years, Stancil hopes to begin her career that utilizes her passion for the fashion industry and making the world a better place.
“I am confident that my time at the Wilson College of Textiles will help me learn and navigate the industry and allow me to choose a career path that allows me to make a positive change in the world,” she said.”
The Centennial Scholarship means everything to Stancil and her family. “After losing my dad to cancer and my mom becoming a single mother providing for my younger sister and me, I am so grateful,” said Stancil. “The Centennial Scholarship will allow me to further my education without placing a huge financial burden on my family.”