WPU announces the Leigh Anne Sims Ivey ‘12 Scholarship Fund 

November 18, 2021

The Leigh Anne Sims Ivey ‘12 Scholarship Fund is part of the “22 Courageous Gifts in 2022” giving campaign – a campus-wide fundraising initiative at William Peace University (WPU). Donors, like Celia and Roger Sims, Rich Ivey, and their friends and family, support this initiative by making a courageous commitment that provides our students with the resources they need to learn through immersive experiences, build upon their courage and develop the confidence needed to turn their passion into purpose. These gifts will shape both the future of our University and our students. To learn more or to donate visit 22 in 2022.

William Peace University is excited to announce the Leigh Anne Sims Ivey ‘12 Scholarship Fund,  established in Fall 2021 thanks to the generosity of Celia and Roger Sims in partnership with her husband, Rich Ivey, and numerous extended friends and family.

The Sims family and friends established the scholarship to honor their daughter and 2012 William Peace University (WPU) Alumna, Leigh Anne. In January 2021, Leigh Anne, 34, suddenly passed away from a brain aneurysm rupture. “Her life was cut short,” said Celia Sims, Leigh Anne’s mother. “Leigh Anne had become a successful and confident Senior UX Designer at Red Hat, Inc. who was compassionate about those around her.”

Leigh Anne Ivey’s family stands with WPU President Ralph near the iconic fountain. Left to right: Brian Ralph, Roger Sims, Celia Sims, husband Rich Ivey and best friend Cary Allman Schmid ’08.

This scholarship is designated towards a junior or senior that is majoring in visual arts or a design-related field to ease their financial need. The student should contribute to the WPU campus and surrounding communities through kindness and compassion like Leigh Anne did. Although not a specific criterion of this scholarship award, the Sims intended to recognize and support students who, like Leigh Anne, have a passion for learning and using their talents to give back and pay it forward to those around them.

“Our hope in establishing this memorial scholarship is that we keep Leigh Anne’s memory alive. It will help to lessen the financial worry for a deserving student at WPU,” Celia said. “Her desire to complete her degree program to ensure she would acquire the best possible job opportunity in her chosen field is what she would want for all students. She genuinely cared for others.”

Celia explained that WPU was where Leigh Anne first found her confidence — she found herself at Peace. The scholarship is a way to help others find  the confidence Leigh Anne found through the campus community and her classes.

Leigh Anne first attended William Peace University in 2006 and fell in love with the campus. However, she felt unsure about what she wanted to study. She then enrolled in Randolph Community College and afterward,  Wake Technical Community College. At Wake Tech, she found a love for design and she earned an associate’s degree in graphic design.

After two years of working in the field, she wanted to further her knowledge and career opportunities through a bachelor’s degree. She was drawn back to WPU.

“It was at Peace that she was able to prosper and be all she could be,” Celia said.

Leigh Anne was proud to have been welcomed back and quickly dedicated herself to her studies. She was serious about being a successful designer after graduating. When she graduated, she worked first at Ansibel, and then advanced to be a Senior UX Designer at Red Hat, Inc.

“Realizing her full potential was made possible by all of her professors, instructors, and friends at Peace,” Celia said. “She was so very proud to have graduated from her first choice.”

You can read more about Leigh Anne’s story in PEACE Magazine coming in April 2022. If you are interested in joining the Sims Family in courageously supporting students through the Leigh Anne Sims Ivey ‘12 Scholarship Fund please visit peace.edu/give, and designate your gift to “other” noting the “Leigh Anne Sims Ivey ’12 Scholarship” in the comments.