Arkansas Tech University student Fabiola Ramirez Vasquez has a goal to pay forward the life-changing experiences she had as an elementary school student by becoming a teacher.
That goal is within Ramirez’s grasp after a group of Arkansas Tech alumnae committed an act of kindness outside Crabaugh Hall on Friday, Oct. 22.
The alumnae known as the Caraway Hall Girls surprised Ramirez with a $3,050 scholarship that will help her complete her studies at Arkansas Tech.
“It means a lot,” said Ramirez, who grew up in Danville and graduated from Dardanelle High School in 2016. “I’ve applied for scholarships and I always had the grade point average to qualify, but I never got any. When I woke up today, I had no idea I’d be receiving a scholarship. I’m very blessed.”
The story of the scholarship dates back more than 60 years to a lifelong sisterhood that was developed by a group of women who lived together as Arkansas Tech students in Caraway Residence Hall. Their friendships were rekindled in 2009 when they gathered for Homecoming at Arkansas Tech, and they have returned to Homecoming for a reunion every year since.
In 2013, the Caraway Hall Girls started an annual scholarship to benefit a female student at Arkansas Tech.
Julie Morgan, an alumna of Arkansas Tech who worked at her alma mater from 1998-2015 and was inducted into the ATU Hall of Distinction in 2018, has assisted the Caraway Hall Girls in their philanthropic efforts over the years.
“Of all the experiences I’ve had at Arkansas Tech since I was a student and later working here, there is nothing that is more meaningful than what this group of ladies does,” said Morgan as she introduced the Caraway Hall Girls to Ramirez and her classmates. “They do it for the right reason and it is an example for all of us. I ask you that when you graduate to think about doing what this group of ladies does and setting the example for future generations.”
Ramirez is a junior elementary education major. Her path to that course of study was influenced by the mentorship she received as a child from one of her teachers, Lecia Reddin.
“She really inspired me and went out of her way to help me in third grade,” said Ramirez. “I want to be that for someone else.”
The Caraway Hall Girls presented the scholarship in memory of one of their classmates, Louise Franklin Broomfield. A 1959 graduate of Arkansas Tech with an elementary education degree, Broomfield taught school for 13 years. She died Feb. 14, 2021, at the age of 81.
Members of the Caraway Hall Girls present for the surprise announcement were Lou Nell McCraw Davis, Shirley Drewry Dodd, Eddie Carolyn Whitehead and Carolyn Leek Allen.
“We love doing this,” said Davis, who spoke on behalf of the Caraway Hall Girls during the scholarship presentation. “We definitely were not rich when we were in school. You couldn’t have pulled 50 bucks from the lot of us, so we understand how it is.”
For Ramirez, the gift is a reward for the persistence that brought her this far and will help her achieve her goal of becoming a teacher.
“It’s never too late to go to school,” said Ramirez. “If you change your major, that’s okay as long as you are doing something you really like. Reach for your dreams. Go for it. Don’t be scared to take that leap.”