When you ask senior Casey Melton ('09) how she came to Wake Forest, she gives you a big, bright smile. "My dad is a Wake Forest alumnus," she says, "and my brother Matt is an '04 graduate. I grew up coming to Wake Forest games with my family, and I knew this was where I wanted to be. I didn't really apply anywhere else."
Though Casey always had the desire to go to Wake Forest, she knew she would need help to achieve her dream. Casey comes from the small town of Lancaster, S.C. Her father, Max Melton ('75), works in education, and her mother is retired. Thanks to a planned gift from the late Keith Stamey ('59), Casey received a scholarship that enabled her to enroll without putting her family through financial hardship. "If I didn't have the scholarship from Mr. Stamey's estate, I could not have come to Wake Forest without extreme debt," says Casey. "Especially with my brother at Wake Forest too. I am not sure my family could have supported both of us at once."
Casey never had the chance to meet Mr. Stamey—famed in the Triad for his outstanding barbecue restaurant—to thank him for the gift that has changed her life. But her respect for the man and his extraordinary generosity is profound: "The fact that I got his help to come here, it shows that he wanted to help people get a great education. And in a way he is helping me and my parents. To give a family the resources to put two kids through Wake Forest is a great blessing."
Stamey's scholarship is the University's fourth largest endowed scholarship (following the Reynolds, Carswell, and Hankins funds), according to Bill Wells ('74), director of financial aid. "This has significantly helped us continue to meet our need-blind commitment and the needs of students from our historical constituency," Wells says. "As top national schools increasingly offer more financial assistance in the form of scholarships rather than loans, and in some cases eliminate loans altogether, this gift was an important step forward for Wake Forest in being able to meet a higher percentage of financial need with scholarships."
When you give a young person the gift of an education, you profoundly impact that student's life for the better. Being at Wake Forest has opened many doors for Casey. A self-described "shy" person, she says her experience at the University has helped her come out of her shell and blossom. She credits Wake Forest's extraordinary faculty for creating a setting where students are free to be themselves: "You can have relationships with your professors here because the classes are small. It's an environment that is conducive to saying what you feel and speaking your mind, and the professors will really listen."
The intimacy of the campus community is something else that helped Casey find her place at Wake Forest. "I feel like I know most of the people here," she says. "I can put a name to a face for most everyone." And coming from a small town, Casey has relished the opportunity to meet students from different backgrounds, different parts of the country, and those with different interests.
Casey graduated in May with a business degree from the Calloway School. Her plans post-college are to work for two years and then pursue an MBA in hopes of a career in banking and investments. Casey still remembers the day she learned of her scholarship and the gift from the estate of Mr. Stamey. "I was at a soccer game and my dad had gotten the financial aid letter," she recalls. "When I got home, my dad had put a poster on the front door with the amount of my scholarship on it. I was so excited!" She smiles broadly, adding, "I worked so hard in high school to get good grades, and this scholarship was the reward for me and for my family."