Students Reflect on the Importance of Scholarship and Thank Donors

Students Reflect on the Importance of Scholarship and Thank Donors

by Dave Cranshaw
UNH Today Editor

Competing for a spot at the top of her graduating high school class of more than 300 should have been a celebratory moment for Christina Kling ’14. But while her fellow classmates in the top 10 talked about going to schools in the Ivy League, she was just hoping to find a part-time job to help pay for community college.

That’s because she knew that if she wanted to go to college, she would be responsible for paying her own way.

(L-R) Christina Kling '14 and Gail Brekke

“My parents always worked hard for my brother and me, but college tuition just wasn’t in the cards,” she told the audience last Thursday at the University’s Endowed Scholarship Luncheon, an annual event that brings together donors and the students who directly benefit from their support.

That potential obstacle certainly didn’t dampen her enthusiasm to learn. A school counselor encouraged her to apply to four-year schools, hoping one would provide enough scholarship support to allow her to attend. Her decision to submit an application to UNH, she concedes, was largely based on the fact that the fee was waived as an early-decision applicant.

After a few months, she received an acceptance letter and a financial aid package – including scholarships – that would allow her to attend without having to take out significant loans. Elated, she accepted her spot in the Class of 2014 without even visiting the campus.  

Today, she is less than a month from becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college – with a near 4.0 GPA. And she is set to take her shot at the Ivy League, having been accepted to a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences at Cornell.

“Much of my success is due to the generosity of the people sitting in this room,” she said. “I am grateful for your faith in my abilities, which has given me the confidence to be the most successful individual I can be.”

Kling, a biotechnology major, is a John Hatfield Scholar and a three-time recipient of the Geraldine Hughes Brekke and Gail L. Brekke Endowed Scholarship.

Gail Brekke, a member of the University’s Board of Governors and a former vice president with LIN Television, met Kling when she was a sophomore. The two shared an instant connection as the first in their family to attend college.

“I will put as much money as I possibly can into scholarships,” said Brekke, who established the endowed scholarship with her husband, Jim Vlock, in 2009 in memory of her mother, an ardent supporter of education. “My scholarships are really to support young women who have challenges and want to aspire to achieve their dreams.”

“I’m enjoying getting to know Christina and watching her trajectory,” continued Brekke. “This is a young woman who was not deterred. It makes me feel as if I have put my money in the right place.”

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