Photographer: Sarah Barkclay
May 12, 2014
Ohio University freshman Brook Knipp was ready to graduate from high school set in a tiny town in Lawrence County, Ohio. She was set to go to a central Ohio college in the fall. One day, she received a phone call from OHIO’s Office of Financial Aid. A staff member called to inform her that she had been selected as an Appalachian Scholar, an OHIO scholarship award that covers tuition and books for students who are from one of Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties. Even though Knipp’s housing deposit had already been paid and she had accepted the small amount of financial aid the central Ohio university had offered, she knew instantly that decision would have to be reversed.
Once Brook hung up the phone with the staffer, she said she and her family were ecstatic.
“I was jumping up and down and my mom and dad were jumping up and down,” said Knipp. “It was great.”
Students from Appalachian counties in Ohio who apply for the award are selected based on academic standing and financial need. In addition to taking classes, scholars participate in academic, personal and professional workshops and attend speaker forums that feature presentations with leaders and prominent figures.
First year Appalachian Scholars, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, are placed in college transition and support programs and receive academic advising which assists them as they adjust to the increase in the scholarly work expected at a university.
After accepting the award, Brook said she was relieved.
“I didn’t have to worry anymore,” she said. “Getting the scholarship really just relieved a lot of stress. I was just so happy and thankful.”
Knipp is a pre-nursing major and psychology minor. Brook wanted to be in the medical field and help people for as long as she could remember. She believed nursing would be the best way to accomplish both goals.
Connecting and Growing
Brook Knipp is from Pedro, Ohio, population 2,850.
Pedro is a “very rural community,” Knipp said. “There’s no cell service 20 minutes in either direction. There are not any businesses, we don’t have a grocery store; we have only one gas station. People live there, that’s about it.”
Knipp was a National Honors Society student in high school and completed 100 hours of community service each year. So it was to no one’s surprise when Knipp easily immersed herself into the Athens community through volunteering with United Campus Ministries (UCM), a non-profit guided by socially and progressive interfaith values that aims to engage students and community members.
“I volunteer a lot with United Campus Ministries and help at the free Thursday and Saturday Meals. I really enjoy meeting people in the community.” Knipp said she also enjoys learning about the experiences of others.
Volunteering with UCM connected Brook with other volunteers in the community and introduced her to a variety of people from Athens and the surrounding area.
Meeting other people like herself made Athens feel like home for Knipp. But, meeting people at OHIO who are not like her opened her eyes to issues she did not know existed.
“Here, you meet so many different people. I’m exposed to more, diversity wise,” she said.
Knipp specifically noted that as a high school student she was ignorant about matters of race and Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) rights.
“The person I was in high school is not the person I am now,” she said. “That’s all because of Ohio University. I was never close-minded, but my eyes have been opened to so many things that I wasn’t exposed to back home.”
Even though Pedro, Ohio, is far removed from Athens in many ways, Knipp said Ohio University is the perfect fit for her.
“Ohio University is more than just a university—it’s a community. I’ve met so many amazing people. If I never came here, I never would have met them. That’s why I’m so thankful for coming here.”