May 29, 2024

Celebrating the Impact of Scholarships at Annual Appreciation Luncheon

Members of the University community gathered in Anna Irvin Dining Hall for the annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on March 11. This event, hosted by UM’s Office of University Advancement, allows donors who have funded scholarships to meet the students who have benefited from their generosity, and gives those students an opportunity to express their gratitude.

This year’s guest speaker, Bob Baker ’78, shared the story of his “accidental” Montevallo experience — how he became a transfer student by chance after being recruited by Bill Elder, former head basketball coach. Although he came to the school on a whim, Baker looks back on his college career as one of the best times of his life.

“I cultivated so many things here,” Baker said. “The number one thing that has come out of my time, both then and now, at Montevallo is relationships. I think when most of us think of life, our relationships are where it really hits home.”

Baker earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1978. He is the primary owner and president of Hinkle Roofing, a residential and commercial roofing company based in Birmingham. Baker has served on the UM Foundation Board since 2017. He and his wife, Elizabeth, established the Bob and Elizabeth Baker Endowed Scholarship in Business.

“It’s very special to me to be a part of young folks’ lives that I don’t even know, but I know that they will be producing a good result when they finish at Montevallo,” Baker said. “Thank you Montevallo for doing what you do.”

This year’s luncheon featured three student speakers who shared their experience at UM with the audience and expressed how scholarships have supported them throughout their college journey.

Rachel Johnson, a junior majoring in speech-language pathology with a minor in human development and family studies, was raised by her physically-disabled single father. She explained to the audience how receiving scholarships has greatly eased her financial worries as a low-income, first-generation college student. She aims to practice in a local school one day, where she can support students facing adversity and help them develop the skills they need to find their own success.

“My scholarships have empowered me to break down barriers and overcome every challenge I’ve faced so far,” Johnson said. “Scholarships have not only allowed me to succeed, but to overachieve. My goal for the future is to take what Montevallo has given to me and give back.”

Allie Dishman, a senior majoring in biology with a pre-med track, spoke about her time as a member of the volleyball team and her experience interning at Harvard Medical School over the past two summers with Dr. Richard Cummings ’74. She also announced that she would be attending Mercer University School of Medicine in the fall.

“I’m so grateful for Montevallo and how it’s been able to nourish me academically and prepare the way for my future in medicine,” she said. “Even though I’ll be a Mercer Bear in August, it’s all because I was a Montevallo Falcon.”

Rounding out the student speakers was Drew Roberts, a senior mass communication major with a minor in public relations and social media administration. Roberts talked about his fond memories of being part of the cross country and track and field teams, Catholic Campus Ministries and the Mass Communication Program. He will attend the University of Mississippi this fall, pursuing a graduate degree in integrated marketing communications.

“As much as it’s been a dream of mine to walk on Flowerhill, it signifies the end of a chapter — a chapter that’s been one of the greatest of my life,” Roberts said. “Even if it’s years down the road and I’ve moved across the country, Montevallo is home. To the donors present here, that’s what you’re investing in. That is Montevallo.”