More than two decades after graduating Pine Bluff High School, Teresa Willman decided to begin her college journey.
"I wanted better for my life and my son's life," said the soon-to-be 42-year-old, who has a 22-year-old son. "I had to make a lot of sacrifices to work and pay my bills and all that stuff."
The move paid off, figuratively and literally, for Willman, a psychology student at Southeast Arkansas College who will graduate with an associate degree in psychology and enroll at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in the fall for her bachelor's degree.
Willman was one of 83 scholarship recipients honored during a SEARK College Foundation luncheon Wednesday at the college's Seabrook Activity Center. A total of $43,875 in scholarships were given, each one ranging from $150 to $2,000, and were made possible by donations to the foundation. Many of the donations were raised during a December gala at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
It also comes in handy for Willman, who had been enrolled at the college since the spring 2021 semester.
"I think it is amazing," Willman said of the program. "I was honored when they told me I got the scholarship. I'm very grateful for it."
Willman received one of the "Rising Up" awards from an anonymous donor who recently gave $200,000 to the college.
Willman has worked at the Pine Bluff Arsenal in multiple departments over the past 14 years. Psychology, she said, has always interested her, and she wants to use her degrees to help those who struggle with mental illness.
"Learning more to prepare for the job I'm going to take on after college," Willman said, is what she looks forward to the most in her next collegiate step.
The luncheon is held every fall and spring semester and is a highlight of the school year, school President Steven Bloomberg said.
"There's no doubt about it. Between this and commencement, it's a time to celebrate and to celebrate students and the donors who made it possible," Bloomberg said.