Nay Say’s endowed scholarship means she can attend Hope College and become a social worker, a career inspired by her personal experience living in a refugee camp.
“I want to help refugee families,” said Nay, who is originally from Myanmar. “My family emigrated to the U.S. through a church sponsorship program in 2013. I was born in a refugee camp on the border between Myanmar and Thailand.”
Nay, who is studying sociology and business, said her family was forced to flee Myanmar because of a civil war and has not been able to return with continuing political unrest. She wanted to attend college and chose Hope because of the way she felt personally cared for during the admissions process. But she worried about whether she could afford it.
“Hope is expensive. I wondered, ‘How am I going to make it there?’ But when I got my financial aid, everything was covered,” said Nay, who still pays for her room and board. “An endowed scholarship was right in my financial aid package. I didn’t yet know that my scholarship was from a specific person. It was amazing when I found out it was from someone who cared.”
Nay received the Bill and Judy Tanis ’67 Parr Scholarship, which Judy funded in memory of her late husband, Bill. They met while attending Hope and have always been enthusiastic supporters. Since meeting at a scholarship recipients’ luncheon, Judy and Nay have kept in touch.
“We email back and forth. I’m so honored. I feel so special because she reached out to me first,” said Nay, who added that hearing regularly from Judy has made her feel more connected on campus as a first-generation student and a student of color.
Working as an Engagement Center student caller and involvement in Hope’s Multicultural Student Organization (MSO) keeps Nay busy outside the classroom. She often participates in events sponsored by the Asian Student Union, Black Student Union and Women of Color United.
“Having the support of other people of color helps me have that feeling like I do belong,” said Nay.
She’s learned many lessons about generosity while on campus. “Hope really cares about generosity and giving back. They care about students coming to college and having an education,” she said.
“I would be constantly stressed and not studying because I would have to work way more without scholarships from Hope and Miss Judy,” she thoughtfully added. “Mostly, I’m just grateful. Hope made sure my tuition got covered. Wow! They care.”
Consider funding an endowed scholarship and help more outstanding students like Nay to afford a prized Hope education. Learn more at hope.edu/give.