If you have ever wondered what happens after Wake Forest’s fundraising appeals, I’d like you to meet senior Beth Seagroves, who grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. I met her in March 2021, masked and sitting outside for a cup of tea on a nippy afternoon. She was my mentee assigned through the wonderful Adopt-A-Deac program, which the University introduced during COVID days to offer students who requested it support and caring from a faculty or staff member.
How pleased I am to have become friends with this young woman who experienced the topsy-turvy challenges of seeing her first-year spring semester upended by the pandemic. She has managed to thrive despite the obstacles. I didn’t know until recently the details of how she was able to attend Wake Forest. Financial aid? “It meant everything,” she says.
“I came to Wake Forest to take a tour, and I immediately fell in love with the campus,” she says. “I knew that while every place I had applied would give me unique opportunities, Wake Forest was a place that would care about me as a person. It would help nurture me and help me grow.”
Her mother arrived to pick her up after Beth stayed overnight in a dorm. “I remember we got the news about my scholarship when she came, and I went up to her, and I saw she had tears in her eyes because without it I wouldn’t be here today. … It felt like the last piece of the puzzle that made my dream of coming to Wake come true.”
Beth won a William Louis Poteat Scholarship and an Egbert L. Davis Jr. Scholarship, both merit based and aimed at helping outstanding North Carolina students. She also received a need-based scholarship.
Ask the highlights of her Wake Forest experience and prepare to be awed. She visited parts of Europe as a first-year student. As a sophomore, she and friends who were passionate about inequality created “from scratch” and hosted an online research symposium for students across the world “who didn’t really have a place to showcase their research like we do here at Wake.” She became a politics and international affairs major with a minor in international studies. Soon, she began spending time with one of her favorite politics professors, associate professor Betina Wilkinson, to learn more about research skills. That led to an internship to assist Wilkinson in summer 2022. That led to a trip last fall to Montreal at which professor and student presented their research at the American Political Science Association’s conference. All of that led to Beth’s career path. She is applying to graduate schools — to become a politics professor.
Don’t think she was only in the classroom or crunching data. She names Hit the Bricks, Project Pumpkin, football games and learning ballroom dancing as other highlights.
This year, Wake Forest is raising $10 million for North Carolina students like Beth. The money will go to establish or enhance scholarships specifically for deserving North Carolina students. It is known as the “For Home” initiative, protecting heritage and presence within our home state. This campaign is a part of the larger “For Humanity” campaign with an overall goal to raise $25 million (which includes the $10 million goal for North Carolina students) by June 30 for scholarships to create life-changing opportunities.
In 2010 I heard another eastern North Carolinian speak of the difference a scholarship makes. “I came home for lunch one day,” Bill Wells (’74) said, “and there was a big, fat envelope on the kitchen table from Wake Forest. I opened that envelope, and there was a letter inside that said I had been awarded a (Guy T.) Carswell Scholarship that would pay for all of my expenses. And that changed my life.”
Bill became director of financial aid at Wake Forest in 1998, retiring in 2020 after putting philanthropic dollars to work for access and affordability for underserved students.
In the talk I remembered from 2010, he reminded people who have been successful “to always send the elevator back down” for young people eager for an opportunity.
One of those people is my Adopt-A-Deac, Beth. “I gave a speech at my church when I graduated high school, and I talked about what having a home means,” she says. “It’s about being somewhere you are cared for, where you feel loved, where you feel accepted for exactly who you are, and that is precisely what I found here at Wake Forest.”
“For Home” campaign? She says, “I couldn’t think of a better name for it.”
To support the For Home and For Humanity scholarship initiatives, contact Mike Haggas (P ’21), assistant dean, College development, at email@example.com or Dustie Lanier (’06), assistant vice president, regional development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.