Feature Stories 2024: Empowering Sarah Adjei '26: Scholarships pave the way for global education access

Scholarship student
Nothing could stop Adjei from chasing her dreams and pursing higher education.
Feature Stories 2024: Empowering Sarah Adjei '26: Scholarships pave the way for global education access
Empowering Sarah Adjei '26: Scholarships pave the way for global education access

From Ghana to UMass Dartmouth’s Ring Road, Sarah Adjei traveled across the world to attend college with the support of scholarship donors.

Announcements echo in an unfamiliar language. Luggage wheels rhythmically roll toward unexplored terrain. Jet engines roar in the distance to sweep travelers away to their destination. As West African native Sarah Adjei ’26 walked through Boston’s Logan Airport for the first time, her clammy hands trembled with a nervous anticipation; she was eager to embark on her higher education journey, but uneasy about the many roadblocks that would stand in the way on her path to success.

“When I got to the United States, I was just a girl with ambitions in a beautiful place. I was doing everything I could to take it all in,” said Adjei. A first-generation college student, her journey across borders sparked both excitement and fear, as she was unable to resist the whirlwind rush of adrenaline she felt navigating her new home away from home. “As an international student, I came here all alone without my parents. It was terrifying, but so exciting at the same time.”

With a suitcase full of dreams, Adjei arrived to the U.S. following her high school career in her home country of Ghana. From beloved family members to decadent cuisine, she left everything she’d ever known behind in conquest of a degree that will transform her professional career. As the first in her family to attend college, Adjei’s fear of failure pulsed in her chest as she enrolled in classes at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA, but she found sheer solace in academia’s warm embrace.

After receiving her associate’s degree, she transferred to UMass Dartmouth to study psychology. As she made yet another transition, Adjei found herself struggling with the expensive burden on her shoulders, making it challenging for her to focus on her studies and become fully immersed in the Corsair community. She needed financial support to truly thrive in her academics and experience college in a wholesome, incomparable way.

Adjei turned to the many scholarships offered to UMass Dartmouth students to make their passionate aspirations a reality. Endowed scholarships like the Dr. Teal Donabella-Pedlow Memorial Scholarship are essential to opening doors for students to pursue the academic foundations that will prepare them for career success, a gesture that shows faith in the futures of ambitious Corsairs.

“When we established the Dr. Teal Donabella-Pedlow Memorial Scholarship, it was because we were dedicated to helping first-generation students get the education they deserve. These students understand the essence of balancing work, school, and their personal lives,” said donor Marie Donabella-Pedlow. Adjei was awarded this scholarship to aid in her educational endeavors and set her up for financial stability in preparation for her future career. “We believe that everyone should have access to higher education to create a well-rounded, equitable society.”

The Donabella-Pedlow family's genuine display of philanthropy helped Adjei discover the college experience that she’d always dreamed of at UMass Dartmouth. Without the heavy burden of tuition and fees hanging over her head, Adjei has the strength to put all of her effort into acing her classes, being a valued member of the UMass Dartmouth community, and indulging in hobbies that ignite creativity within her. For example, she started her own website selling self-designed journal templates that cater to mental health needs, a personal project that aligns with her studies at UMass Dartmouth. She was so inspired by the selflessness of the Donabella-Pedlow family that she even gives back herself and distributes her journals to elementary school students in hopes of instilling positive mindsets in them at an early age.

“There is a serious mental health crisis in the world, but especially among college students,” said Donabella-Pedlow. “As the cost of college increases, I hope that this scholarship alleviates stress for students so they can have more time to focus on their personal health.”

Endowed scholarships make college less stressful for hardworking students with overloaded plates in front of them. They break down the barriers that students like Adjei may face during their educational careers. They serve as a beacon of hope for Adjei and others starting a new chapter of their lives, uncertain about the journey that lies ahead. They empower the next generation of professional leaders to shape a world that knows the importance of giving back firsthand.

“There’s an old saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” said a confident Adjei, now secure in her pursuit for higher education due to this scholarship. “My scholarship donor is part of my village that is shaping my future, and for that, they are my hero. I can now look at my education and see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Endowment funds are a critical part of increasing student financial aid and developing innovative academic and research programs in perpetuity. For information about establishing an endowment or contributing to one, please contact University Advancement at giving@umassd.edu.