Thursday, February 28, 2019

This is the first article in a series highlighting the impact of the Green Tie Gala, which raises money for scholarships at UNC Charlotte. Gala attendees get to choose which scholarship their donations will support. Click here to purchase tickets or learn more about the gala.

As a triple major in French, German and international studies, UNC Charlotte senior Maria Garcia dreams of working as an interpreter helping people travel the world. For Garcia, it’s a job that bridges the gap between people of different cultures.

“As an interpreter, you get to help people communicate who otherwise wouldn’t be able to,” she said.

Garcia knows that improving her language skills is important to becoming a successful interpreter, so she decided to enroll for a fifth year at UNC Charlotte in order to study abroad in Berlin, Germany, during the fall 2018 semester. She said it was a trip she could not have afforded without the scholarships she received this academic year, including the Dr. Gregory Davis ’76 Alumni Association Scholarship.

“They made all the difference in this trip,” said Garcia, adding that she was able to focus on her coursework and become acclimated to Germany without stressing about money.

The Dr. Gregory Davis ’76 Alumni Association Scholarship is one of the funds that will benefit from the Green Tie Gala 2019: An Evening Under the Stars, hosted by the UNC Charlotte Alumni Association on Friday, April 5, at The Westin Charlotte. It will be a night of fun and fellowship with UNC Charlotte friends and alumni, and a portion of each ticket sold will support one of seven scholarship funds.

The Davis Alumni Association Scholarship honors its namesake who, as a 21-year-old high school freshman, was deemed developmentally disabled. Davis dropped out of high school in 1972 and obtained a GED from Central Piedmont Community College. Four years later, he was one of the first African Americans to graduate from UNC Charlotte’s Religious Studies Department. He went on to receive a Master of Divinity from Duke University and a doctorate in American religious history from the Union Institute & University. He retired from UNC Charlotte in 2008 as director of multicultural affairs. The Alumni Association Board of Directors established a need-based scholarship in his honor in 2008.

UNC Charlotte requires more scholarships to meet the financial needs of its students. During the 2018-19 academic year, 18,503 students submitted more than 33,000 scholarship applications. The University awarded 1,203 merit and need-based scholarships, totaling $4,573,053.

While the average scholarship amount the University awarded this academic year was $3,780, the average unmet need is $6,800 for UNC Charlotte students who are North Carolina residents and whose families have a median annual income of $95,000. The majority of scholarships are used by students to pay for tuition and fees, but some students use them to pay for on-campus room and board or, like Garcia, international study.

In addition to studying abroad, Garcia is using her last year at UNC Charlotte to earn a graduate certificate in translation in French, Spanish and German, which her scholarship is helping finance.

The travel abroad experience has made her more independent and confident as she prepares to graduate in May. Garcia, who grew up in Monroe, North Carolina, expects the job field to be wide open for her. Interpreters are used in a variety of fields, including medicine, law and government.

Garcia, who expressed gratitude for the financial assistance, said college students are graduating with more debt every year, and that any scholarship amount helps to offset the cost of an education.

“Anything that can help lower these costs for students is a major investment in their futures,” she said.

Photo: Garcia at the Berlin Wall.