“Hollins is a place that’s not just a school for four years, but a place you can call home forever.”
–Madeline Aliff, director of admission and recruitment operations at Hollins University
The rising cost of college tuition can be a deterrent for many high school seniors looking to pursue higher education. However, Hollins University’s HOPE scholarship program will help alleviate that burden.
In the fall of 2021, Hollins announced a new scholarship opportunity specifically designed for young women in the Roanoke Valley region who wish to pursue a Hollins degree with zero tuition debt. Hollins Opportunity for Promise through Education (HOPE) is a scholarship program that offers a pathway forward for young women. It’s the chance to turn the hope of a college degree into a reality, with scholarship recipients being granted the ability to attend Hollins full time for four years. Madeline Aliff, the director of admissions and recruitment operations at Hollins University, played a crucial role in creating and implementing the program and spoke about her experience with Hollins and the incredible support surrounding the HOPE scholarship.
Q: What is your history with Hollins University?
I grew up in Salem, Virginia, not too far from Hollins. Other than my aunt being an alumna, I didn’t know much about it. Once I graduated from Roanoke College, I decided I wanted my career to be rewarding and have meaning. I wanted to work with people, build relationships, and leave every day feeling fulfilled. Ultimately, I decided to go into admissions and began my journey with Hollins.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working with the students at Hollins University?
It has truly been a joy to get to know each and every one of my students. Since I started this career when I was young, my students sometimes look at me as an older sibling; answering their questions, offering guidance, and providing a safe space for them to learn and grow. I even have some students that text me on a regular basis asking for support. I have the opportunity to get to know them on a deeper level and learn more about their backgrounds and what makes them tick. All of my students are so different and they are truly what makes my job enjoyable.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Hollins University?
Other than the students, my favorite thing is the community as a whole. Hollins is a place where you can be yourself. I’ve found that out as a staff member, too. It’s remarkable to be able to work and support my students in an environment where I can be my authentic self.
And the campus itself is absolutely stunning. You drive around the loop, there’s this beautiful hill, these mountains, and all the magnificent surroundings. Then to add to that, the faculty, staff, and students provide a unique experience. They smile at you when you walk by and they ask how you’re doing; they’re not just asking to ask, they truly care. You have a beautiful setting for a campus, but then you pair it with the community aspect to complete the full picture of a home at Hollins.
Q: What is your experience with the HOPE scholarship program?
I had the opportunity to be a part of the process to create and administer the HOPE scholarship program. I had a hand in writing the proposal, rolling the scholarship out, marketing, recruiting students, and visiting high schools. Being able to watch it all unfold was pretty amazing, especially being able to sit down and tell families that their student received the HOPE scholarship.
I had the pleasure of telling student Be Lalanne she’d be receiving the scholarship. She and her mom were on a visit to tour Hollins. We made the decision that morning to offer the HOPE scholarship to Be. After her tour, I asked what she thought about the tour and Hollins. We talked about money and scholarships, and I got to tell her she was a HOPE recipient. She and her mom froze and then fell into each other’s arms. All three of us sat there and cried tears of joy. I will remember that moment forever.
Q: How is the HOPE scholarship beneficial to a potential recipient?
The HOPE scholarship is a huge benefit for many reasons, particularly in alleviating the financial burden a four-year college often bears. I come from a similar background as these students. I am a first-generation college student who received a full Federal Pell Grant. I remember how meaningful it was to me, and what the scholarship meant for my family. The HOPE scholarship is life-changing. To be able to go to college and get a degree with no debt, recipients can achieve something they didn’t think was possible.
Q: What is your favorite part about the HOPE scholarship program?
My favorite part about the HOPE scholarship program has been the opportunity to watch students achieve something they didn’t think was possible. There’s this awakening inside of them, and I’ve been able to see that spark light and glow. Maybe college wasn’t a possibility for these students. Maybe it wasn’t realistic for the students to think about even going to college because they’re first-generation or they have a limited income. It is so rewarding to see them have this opportunity and to help them grasp the dream they didn’t think was possible.
Q: Why should students choose to pursue an education at Hollins University?
Not only will students have the opportunity to receive a great education, but they’ll gain a community that cares about them as a person. The faculty, staff, and students at Hollins care about where you want to take your career, what’s going on in your personal life, and how they can help you forge a path forward.
Hollins is special in many ways, particularly being a women’s college. That is a big reason why we are all able to be ourselves here. We live in a world where not all voices are always heard, particularly in the last few years with what our society has been through. This community is rare because it provides a place where students feel safe and their opinion matters. Our relationships continue after college, too. Our network of alumnae provides assistance with graduation and job searches and strives to help each graduate of Hollins University continue their success after college.
The Power of HOPE
College can be scary or intimidating. Fortunately, the admission staff at Hollins University is prepared to help students on their collegiate journey and beyond. To learn more about Hollins Opportunity for Promise through Education scholarship, visit hope.hollins.edu.