Brianna Dunn
Brianna Dunn (BBA '17). Photo by Phil Jones

Value Added: Crossing the Finish Line

College might be a marathon in terms of the endurance needed to make it through to graduation, but for most students, it feels more like a hurdles race — a long run interrupted by a series of obstacles seemingly designed to trip you up along the way.

Finals. Grades. Relationships. Work.

Learning to clear these hurdles is part of what the college experience is all about, but when the hurdles — especially the ones near the end of the race — are financial, the impact can be devastating.

For Brianna Dunn (BBA ’17), it came down to the very final hurdle: a class. One class — just three credit hours — stood between her and the future a college degree could unlock for her. When measured against all the classes she’d completed and all the things she’d accomplished, it seemed so inconsequential — a nuisance, but nothing more … until paying for it became an issue.

“I was so close,” she says. “But I just didn’t have that little bit of money to finish it.”

Thanks to the Coca-Cola United Finish Line Scholars scholarship fund, Dunn was able to clear that last hurdle and power through to graduation.

The scholarship fund, part of a larger fund that includes the Coca-Cola United B.S. to M.D. Scholarship, was established in 2014 with the goal of enriching the Augusta University campus and ensuring a high-quality education by making sure students are able to focus on school work and learning rather than survival.

According to Wes Zamzow, director of development, Coca-Cola wanted to have a meaningful impact on as many students as possible in a way that helped students toward their degrees. And few student populations are more vulnerable — or can be helped more by a financial boost — than those undergraduates winding up their college careers.

Since the fall of 2014, 29 students have benefited from the scholarship.

“This is for students who are on the cusp of graduating and need a little help with that last semester,” Zamzow says. “It’s for those do-or-die situations — ‘Am I going to put new tires on my car because I need them to get around and get to work, or am I going to pay my tuition so I can complete my last semester?’”

As the daughter of an Augusta graduate, Dunn understood the commitment that came with getting a college education, and the scholarship was the help she needed at the time she needed it — allowing her to earn those last few credits and alleviating the fear that came with finding herself unable to clear that final hurdle.

“That was my main concern — just to get across that stage — and I was ecstatic to do it  because that’s anybody’s dream, to go across that stage and graduate from college,” she says. “You’ve been in school that long, and you want to get to the end and finally shake the president’s hand and get your diploma. That’s the biggest moment anybody could have dreamed of.”

And thanks to the Finish Line Scholars scholarship, that was a moment she didn’t have to miss.

To give or for more information, call 706-721-2699 or email wzamzow@augusta.edu.

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