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Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge awards Appalachian’s ACCESS program $5,000 for summer school opportunities

By: Wes Saylors

BOONE—The Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge (WFBR) has awarded a $5,000 grant to Appalachian State University’s ACCESS (Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success) program to help provide summer school opportunities for women enrolled in the program. The award is providing five $1,000 summer school scholarships for recipients enrolled in 40 hours of coursework among them. The students are using the grants to take summer classes with hopes of graduating on time or early. Two of the recipients are also doing lab research related to their majors in biology and chemistry.

ACCESS is a program that ensures students from low-income families in North Carolina can attend Appalachian State University debt-free. ACCESS supplements federal and state financial aid grants, scholarships and other forms of financial assistance with sufficient funds to cover the costs of tuition, fees, room and board.

According to Beth Marsh, director of academic services for ACCESS students, “For all five scholarship recipients, their summer experience will make it possible for them to graduate on time and have an internship experience that will make them more marketable upon graduation.” The goal of the WFBR grant is to make sure ACCESS women graduate on time. When this happens, both ACCESS and WFBR are “affecting remarkable social change,” said Marsh.

Since 2009, WFBR has contributed over $42,000 in summer scholarship money to Appalachian, allowing 52 ACCESS women to attend summer school. Of those, 39 have graduated from Appalachian, and almost all the rest are making progress towards their degrees.

“We are so grateful to the Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge for recognizing the importance of education as we help usher these young women out of poverty,” said Marsh. “Their contribution is making a real difference in the lives of these women and their futures.”

The participants are Julia Bauguess, a junior from Carthage majoring in sociology; Nancy Contreras-Quinteros, a junior from Charlotte majoring in chemistry; Debra (Shay) Kallam, a freshman from Eden majoring in criminal justice; Meghan Seals, a senior from Gibson majoring in biology; and Jacqueline Walczak, a senior from West Jefferson majoring in biology.

WBFR is a philanthropic group committed to creating positive change and economic justice for women and girls in the High Country.

For more information on Appalachian’s ACCESS program, visit For more information on Women’s Fund of the Blue Ridge, visit

About Appalachian

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low faculty-to-student ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.