TNCC Student Receives $1,000 MEAEOPP Scholarship

Published: April 23, 2009

It hasn’t been an easy semester for Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) student Orana Paullus. She works hard to juggle school with her husband and 10-year-old daughter. She is expecting a son in July. When the pregnancy started to take a toll on her health, her schoolwork suffered, but one hard day was the key to a winning essay for the $1,000 scholarship from the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MEAEOPP).

Along with official transcripts and letters of recommendation, the TRiO student shared the story of her meeting with a TRiO counselor just one day before the scholarship application and essay were due. Prior to the meeting, Paullus, 27, considered withdrawing from TNCC to avoid failing grades and the costs of repeating a course. The TRiO counselor encouraged Paullus to change her mind, suggesting that she opt for an incomplete grade instead. “I never knew an incomplete existed,” Paullus said.

Because of that meeting and the MEAEOPP scholarship, Paullus will complete this semester and confidently face the challenge of juggling school and her growing family. When Paullus isn’t studying and tending to her family, she works as a reading and math tutor at Bethel Elementary School in Hampton. She is also a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Science Club.

Paullus plans to transfer Old Dominion University to major in Dental Hygiene and Biology. Ultimately, she wants to become a researcher and participate in Dentists Without Borders, a non-profit organization that provides free dental care to underprivileged people around the world.

She thanks the TRiO staff for much of her success and says the story shared in her winning essay is just one example of the help she receives from the TRiO staff on the daily basis. “They’ve really given me a lot of confidence and guided me in the right direction,” Paullus said.

TRiO is a federally-funded program that offers academic and career counseling for first-generation college students, those who meet low-income requirements and students with a disability.

MEAEOPP is an organization of educational opportunity personnel from Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The group aims to make higher education more accessible for first-generation college students, those who meet low-income requirements and students who are typically underrepresented in higher education.


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