Samantha Eversole, a 2018 graduate and current medical school student at Lincoln Memorial University, shows that anyone, any age, any income level can make a difference through Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign.
By Molly Williamson
Since she was a little girl, Samantha Eversole knew she was going to college. Her mother – a single parent who worked two jobs to support Eversole – valued education and pushed Eversole to excel in school.
“She always told me to do whatever made me happy, but she also wanted to make sure I did not have to work like a dog like she did,” Eversole said.
Now, Eversole is making her mother proud. A 2018 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Eversole recently finished her first year at the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University, where she is studying to become a rural physician.
She also is funding two $1,000 scholarships through UK’s Student Support Services. One fund benefits a student leader who has financial need. The other supports single parents.
“It is not a lot, but at least I can do something,” Eversole said. “It will help my mom’s legacy live on, and it will help alleviate the burden for some students. I knew multiple kids at UK who had full-time jobs, went full-time to school and were juggling families and other demands. They were doing great, but if I can help them in a small way, I want to.”
More than the financial support, these scholarships provide emotional support to the recipients, affirming their worth and acknowledging their efforts, said Sonja Feist-Price, vice president for the Office of Institutional Diversity, which oversees Student Support services.
“Her gift says to students, ‘I see you and you’re important,’” Feist-Price said. “At times, students feel invisible and their struggles associated with academic achievement may go unnoticed. However, these scholarships say to students, ‘You are of such importance that we want to invest in your success and your future.’ These scholarships also inspire students to give back to others when they have the opportunity to do so.”
Eversole knows intimately how life-changing a scholarship can be. At UK, Eversole was a Robinson Scholar. The program began in high school requiring participants to get involved, volunteer in the community and attend special classes and workshops. On campus, the Robinson Scholars lived in a special living-learning community and volunteered on campus or in the community.
“I thought of it like a nest, a home away from home,” Eversole said. “You could go to the living-learning community or Student Support Services, and people would help you, hear you gripe and complain and build you back up, so you could go back into the world and not die on the inside.”
It was a support system she needed after leaving home. In her hometown of Chavies, Eversole’s mother, Janice Scott, was well known for her generosity. A janitor and cook for Perry County Schools, she would give needy children extra food for lunch and snacks so they wouldn’t feel left out during snack time.
She taught Eversole to care for the less fortunate and to treat each person with dignity and respect.
In July 2018, shortly after Eversole graduated with a bachelor’s in neuroscience with a minor in folklore and mythology from UK, her mother died of colon cancer. Eversole wanted to honor her mother’s love of education and her generous nature with a scholarship.
“We always talked in the Robinson Scholars program about time, talent and presence,” Eversole said. “I wanted to use mine to help others. We all need all of the support we can get so can make the most of the opportunities we are given.
“I am certainly using some of my inheritance to pay for school, but I wanted to do something that would make others happy,” Eversole said. “When I am stressed in school, I think about how my mother’s scholarship is making someone else’s college experience better. It makes me feel better and allows me to refocus on my studies.”