Even as a kid, Stephanie Spangler 12C always wanted things to be fair. When she came to Emory as a Dean’s Achievement Woodruff Scholar, that sense of justice naturally drove her toward prelaw and an internship in the federal public defender’s office. That’s where she had a revelation.
“It was while I was sifting through boxes of case files on death row inmates that it hit me: for them, it’s too late,” Spangler says. “I want to help people before they land in the criminal justice system. You’ve heard of light-bulb moments? My entire perspective shifted when I realized I could make an impact through education.”
Changing her major to history and anthropology, Spangler focused on understanding the systemic social problems that create inequity, and through volunteer work in an urban Atlanta preschool, she saw firsthand how those problems damage real lives. Teaching elementary school was not a career Spangler had envisioned for herself, but she began to see the difference she could make — and, she says, “the scholarship gave me the courage and financial support to do it.”
Now her fourth-graders at Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C., most of whom live in poverty and some of whom are new to English, are reading at levels 30 percent higher than the district average. And every Friday, they eagerly wait to hear which student has been named “Eagle of the Week ” and will get to wear the coveted Emory Eagles jersey.
“The children I work with every day are intelligent, curious, and resilient,” Spangler says. “It’s an incredible group of people to help empower.”
Scholarship support has been a game changer for thousands of students like Spangler, which is why building that capacity is an ongoing priority for Emory College of Arts and Sciences. The college is celebrating a milestone with the establishment of more than one hundred new or augmented endowed scholarships, thanks to numerous donors and an unprecedented anonymous $50 million matching endowment gift, which provides the seed funding that allows Emory College to maximize the impact of individual donors.