WPU announces the McKoy-Wilkins Scholarship for non-traditional students

May 19, 2022

The McKoy-Wilkins Scholarship is part of the “22 Courageous Gifts in 2022” giving campaign – a campus-wide fundraising initiative at William Peace University (WPU). Donors, like Gale McKoy Wilkins ‘11 and Carl Wilkins, 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.

When Carl and Gale Mckoy Wilkins ’11 graduated high school, they were both offered full-ride scholarships to different universities. However, life circumstances caused them to decline to attend, putting their pursuit of education on hold. 

But the Wilkins still dreamed of earning their degrees. 

Carl was the first to get his in 1986 — he earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering over the course of nine years at North Carolina State University. 

For Gale, the opportunity to go back to school came when her son was in high school. She had taken courses on and off but had never finished a program. That was until she heard of WPU’s School of Professional Studies (SPS). SPS is a non-traditional, accelerated degree program that serves adult students through evening and online classes. 

SPS allowed Wilkins to transfer her previous credits and graduate in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services. 

For Carl and Gale, the ability to go back to school was life-changing. Education better equipped them to pursue their passions. They wanted to enable other non-traditional students to be able to experience this. So, they established the McKoy-Wilkins Scholarship at WPU. 

“We realize how important a college education is. It can change your life forever and it has changed our life,” Gale said.

“We would not be where we are,” Carl said. “Or who we are,” Gale added.

“If not for our education,” Carl finished. “We want to share this with others and help someone else have that experience. We want to pay it forward.”

The McKoy-Wilkins Scholarship provides financial assistance to non-traditional students enrolled in WPU’s SPS or a similar program.

Nontraditional students often face a variety of challenges, with financial concerns being the most preventative from being able to complete their degree,” said Lori Holcomb McClaren, Ph.D., Executive Director of the SPS. “This scholarship will help alleviate some of the financial costs associated with their degree and allow students to focus more on their academic degree completion.”

The SPS offers a full schedule of courses for 10-degree programs and six educational licensure programs across the fall, spring, and summer terms. Students can take either seven or 14 week-long courses. This schedule enables students to earn their degree in as fast as a year.

Gale was able to achieve her dream of a college education through the SPS. After SPS, she went on to become a Certified Life Coach through the graduate program at North Carolina State University and receive her Master of Arts in Liberal Studies in Women in Leadership from NC State University.

Now, Gale works as the Executive Director of the afterschool program Project Arrow. Her service for youth and families garnered her recognition as the 2021 School of Professional Studies  Alumni of the Year. The Professional Studies Alumni of the Year, awarded by the WPU Alumni Association, recognizes an outstanding graduate from the School of Professional Studies for their personal and professional accomplishments. 

“It took courage for me to spend so much time studying and in classes while my son was in high school,” Gale said. “But I am so supportive of who Peace is. Peace gave me the courageous confidence to excel and move forward.”

This scholarship is the first endowment established by an SPS alumni. 

If you are interested in joining Gale and Carl in courageously supporting students, please visit the WPU giving page. To read more about Gale’s story, read her feature in PEACE Magazine.