by Elena Mendez, Student Contributor
TaLaura Mathis, from Manchester, Kentucky, finds motivation to follow her purpose from Psalm 121:1 which says, “I will lift my eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help.” Being raised in Eastern Kentucky has given TaLaura a heart for the people of the region and a desire to help better their lives through the field of Dentistry. In the fall of 2019, she completed a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry at ALC. TaLaura started her journey on the Purpose Road in the fall of 2016 beginning with 33 credit hours from dual credit classes she took in high school. Although she had many options for prospective colleges, TaLaura found ALC to be the best fit because of the College’s unique graduate assistant program – the Caney Cottage Scholarship.
Through the Caney Cottage Scholarship program, TaLaura will be able to begin her graduate degree at the University of Kentucky (UK) in the fall semester of 2020. The opportunity to attend UK with the help of ALC is a humble yet exciting experience for TaLaura. She encourages other students to take the amazing opportunity the College offers. ALC not only accompanies its students earning their bachelor’s degree but also assists them to further their academic experience by helping them receive their graduate degree through the Caney Scholars Program. For this and many more reasons, TaLaura stresses, “When deciding on which undergrad to attend, Alice Lloyd College should be your first choice if you are planning to further your education beyond a bachelor’s degree. The graduate assistance program ALC offers is an amazing asset. Whenever I tell my friends, who attend other colleges, that I am going to be living rent and utility free during my 4 years of dental school, they are so jealous and can’t believe that ALC offers such an awesome scholarship. I am literally going to be graduating with my undergraduate degree completely debt free. The only items I have had to pay for are my parking passes each year. That is completely unheard of, and I am so thankful.”
Ever since her junior year in high school, TaLaura has gained experience with dentistry through her work at her local dentist office. TaLaura recounts that she has seen the need firsthand for proper dental care saying, “I have been exposed to so many people who are in dire need of dental care, lots of these people being young children. I hope to return to the mountains and provide a much-needed service for an under-served community. Eastern Kentucky has molded me as a person spiritually, mentally, and emotionally; this is why I want to return with my professional knowledge and give back to the area that has made me the person I am today.”
TaLaura continues to make her dream a reality by excelling academically. Because of her high academic standing, she was inducted into the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society and also received the prestigious Alice Lloyd College Presidential Scholarship. In addition to her experience in the academic field, TaLaura recounts her gratitude and the amazing experience she has had with the College’s Work Study Program. During her time at ALC, TaLaura worked in the Marketing and Communications Department, where she managed the College’s social media accounts and worked with photography. She says the work study position helped her get out of her comfort zone by interacting with many students, faculty, and staff. TaLaura also believes the work study position helped strengthen her communication skills and improve her time management. She says that, “Even though Marketing and Dentistry are on two completely opposite sides of the spectrum, I know this position has helped to prepare me for the vigorous journey I will encounter during dental school, and for that, I am extremely thankful.”
Alice Lloyd College characterizes itself as a place where students not only earn an education but also gives them a second home, helps them build new relationships, and assists them to explore their abilities and capacities in different aspects of their lives, which is a well-rounded experience few colleges offer. TaLaura encourages those who are still considering where to attend college, saying, “I would like to add that many people I know think Alice Lloyd College is a college for students who are financially disadvantaged or can’t afford to attend college. Yes, Alice Lloyd College is less expensive than other schools, but it is a college for hardworking students who work for their tuition, are self-driven, and want to succeed. Students that attend ALC are motivated and have goals they want to accomplish in the best financial route they possibly can. This is why I chose ALC as my undergraduate home and it has given me the best college experience and prepared me for my next step in life.” TaLaura’s story results from Alice Lloyd College continuing the mission to provide an affordable, character-based education to help students achieve their goals in order for them to come back to the region and be successful Appalachian leaders.