The Cavalier Daily
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Students excel in obtaining scholarships

Without a close examination, this year's incoming class of first years may appear to be just like all the rest. However, there are a few individual students that help make the class of 2003 outstanding and unlike any other before it.

This year two first years, Tiffany Lyttle and Chris Spillman, earned over $20,000 each in scholarships they will use here at the University.

Both Lyttle and Spillman said they were drawn to apply for so many scholarships to help their families put them through school.

"I live with my grandmother and I knew my mother and my grandmother couldn't afford to send me," Lyttle said. "I knew I had to seek out organizations for money."

Spillman said he wanted to relieve some of the financial burden of his college education from his family because he has three younger siblings who also plan to continue onto higher education.

"I could tell that my dad really wanted me to get scholarships," Spillman said. "As much as I could help out would be a good idea."

Dean of Admissions John A. Blackburn said the University is enjoying the fruits of an outstanding group of first years this year.

Blackburn said he wants to remind students that the University tries its best to make sure that all who can receive an education from the University can do so regardless of their financial situation.

"The applicant pool is very strong right now," he said. "We're only offering admission to talented students and we try to meet as much of the needs of those talented students as we can."

Dean Blackburn added that it is important during the admissions process not to be limited to those students that can afford to attend the University.

"In the future we hope to meet every student's financial needs," Blackburn said.

Lyttle, originally from Atlantic City, N.J., and Spillman, from Virginia Beach, said they are both interested in entering the government and foreign affairs program at the University.

Lyttle said she plans on becoming a lawyer, while Spillman said he is working towards a career in public service.

Spillman applied for 45 scholarships and received $20,250 from 13 sources, including Tidwaters Builders Association and the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship from congressional funding.

Lyttle received over $20,950 in scholarships after applying for over 20. She said she learned about the numerous scholarship opportunities by reading the bulletin board in her high school guidance counselor's office.

All of her hard work and research paid off. Lyttle won 11 scholarships including Dollars for Scholars and The Thornton Sisters.

To win their scholarships, Spillman and Lyttle said they wrote essays about their career goals and their individual financial needs.

Last spring Spillman was accepted to Harvard, Dartmouth and William & Mary, in addition to the University. However, he said he liked the University's the best because of its beautiful surroundings and rich history.

Spillman said he also felt that if he attended the University he could take a rigorous course load while still having time for fun and a variety of leisure activities.

"I sat in some classes," Spillman said. "What really made me want to come here was the atmosphere, people, Grounds, everything seems like an ideal setting for college."

Spillman also mentioned that qualifying for the Echols program here at the University made him seriously consider matriculating this fall.

He said he enjoys the freedom of being able to start off his first semester at the University with whatever courses he wants to take without having to fulfill the College's numerous area requirements.

"No requirements to fulfill was definitely a plus," he said.

In addition to being accepted here at the University, Lyttle was accepted to Boston University, the University of Southern California, Rutgers and Penn State.

Lyttle said that she chose to attend the University for its academic reputation as well as the fact that she only heard positive comments from people she knows.

"My assistant track coach went here and I heard a lot of good things about it," she said. "I visited and I really liked it. I thought the campus and the people were really nice, and it was a little cheaper than some of the other schools."

Lyttle and Spillman said they are quickly adjusting to their new lives here at the University.

Lyttle said she was the only student from her high school class to enroll at the University. She said although the first few days were a little intimidating, she is starting to settle in and enjoy University life.

"It's a little scary at first," Lyttle said. "But I'm getting a little bit used to it."

So far Spillman said he is happy with his decision to attend the University over the many other schools he was accepted to.

"It's been introductory," he said. "I'm kind of excited for classes to start."

As an out-of-state student, Lyttle's scholarships will cover her first year here at the University. She said she is planning on re-applying for four of her renewable scholarships.

Like Lyttle, Spillman also said he expects to renew a few of his scholarships for the upcoming years.

In addition to applying for next year's scholarships, Spillman is planning on joining several University organizations, including First Year Council, Madison House, The Cavalier Daily, intramural sports including football and baseball, and the alpine ski team.

Lyttle said she is also looking forward to joining a variety of student organizations.

"I want to try tai kwan do," she said. "And maybe the Black Student Alliance."

Mike Krop, also a first-year College student, has known Spillman since childhood.

Krop said the Echols scholar is a little on the introverted side, but nonetheless he is great fun.

"He's quiet at times but he's also fun to converse with because he's a pretty creative guy," he said.

Krop said he has no doubt that multi-scholarship winner will lead a successful life.

"Whatever he does he's going to be successful," he said. "Although he has some idea what he wants to do, his options are definitely open."

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