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Lindsey Narmour, 19, will continue her education at Hollins University, with some help from a private scholarship designed to help community college students.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
Lindsey Narmour, 19 (center), is graduating from Virginia Western Community College and will attend Hollins University on a scholarship. With her are sister Caitlin, 15 (left), her mother, Ginger, and sister Kelsey, 13.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
Books surround Lindsey Narmour, 19, in her bedroom at her Ferrum home. Narmour said she would like to become a professor and maybe teach one day at Virginia Western Community College.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Nineteen-year-old Lindsey Narmour plans on making her passion for literature and writing her livelihood.
She’ll be a step closer to that goal in the fall when she begins classes at Hollins University. There Narmour will attend school for free thanks to a handful of scholarships, including the prestigious 2013 Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which she recently made history by earning.
The soon-to-be Virginia Western Community College graduate is the first student at the Roanoke school to earn the award, and one of two students in the state to receive the honor this year. She plans to study English with hopes of becoming a professor and teaching medieval literature.
Just two years ago, though, Narmour’s dreams of attending a four-year university faded when her hopes for financial aid fell flat. Staring at college acceptance letters and an untenable financial reality, she said she wasn’t sure what she would do.
Narmour, who lives with her family in Ferrum, explained she didn’t want to incur tons of debt while going to college. Her mother, who home-schooled Lindsey and her other three children, said the family was disillusioned.
“We weren’t financially able to do that,” Ginger Narmour said. “I was sad.”
Narmour recalled sitting in a cafe in downtown Roanoke with her father lamenting her situation. While she doesn’t remember where exactly they talked, she didn’t forget the stranger who asked her if she had heard of Virginia Western.
The stranger, it turns out, was Roanoke Mayor David Bowers. T he rest is history. Narmour later met with college officials, enrolled, and today she will be among the approximately 1,000 students graduating this spring from Virginia Western.
About 600 graduates are expected to attend the school’s commencement ceremony at the Salem Civic Center. Narmour is among the this year’s commencement speakers.
Her story is one that’s becoming more common as college tuition costs rise. Community colleges have been positioning themselves as a more affordable entryway to higher education.
Narmour’s parents helped pay for her first semester at Virginia Western and financial aid and scholarships paid for her second semester. The Valley Proteins Fellows scholarship program funded her second year. That program is for high-achieving second-year community college students and is given by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
Narmour, who praised Virginia Western’s small, nurturing atmosphere, said it’s been the right path for her, though, she’s eager to start at Hollins.
Part of what will make her academic work at Hollins possible is her scholarship from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, which is the largest private scholarship for community college transfer students in the country.
When she found out in mid-April she earned the award, Narmour said she was in disbelief. Recipients receive up to $30,000 per year for up to three years.
“I nearly fell out of my chair,” she said.
The one delivering the breathtaking news was Narmour’s English professor Jenifer Kurtz, who is also her adviser on the Phi Theta Kappa honor society.
“I gasped,” Kurtz said when she read the email stating Narmour was selected. “The fact that she got that scholarship really opened the door to her.”
Kurtz called Lindsey a thoughtful student, who has high standards for herself and others. In fact she recalled students clamored to have Narmour in their group when it came time to peer review papers.
“Everyone would want Lindsey’s review because it was so good,” she said.
With any luck Narmour will be able to use her skills as a professor. She said she’d like to apply to the University of Oxford and perhaps teach at Virginia Western.
Sarah Chitwood, who teaches French at the college, said she sees a career in education for Narmour.
“She’s a thinker,” Chitwood said. “She analyzes and scrutinizes and questions everything, which I think is why she does so well with school. She’s inquisitive and curious.”
Chitwood said she teases Narmour about curly hair. She explained Narmour has a habit of twisting her hair while she thinks. Chitwood joked that her curls are due to the many thoughts in her head.
When asked about what Narmour’s future may hold, Chitwood responded quickly.
“I would love to have her as a colleague,” she said.
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