When you first meet Elizabeth, you see a sweet, smart young student. You might detect an accent in her voice. You quickly find that she is hard-working, ambitious, and extremely intelligent. What you may not learn immediately, however, is just how incredible she is and what brought her here to this special time as a freshman at Spring Hill College.
Elizabeth and her family are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country that has seen more than its fair share of turmoil and hardship in recent decades. When Elizabeth was three years old, her grandfather was the military leader of the regime in power. Rebels from Rwanda invaded her country, overthrowing the president and vowing to kill his supporters and armies, including Elizabeth’s grandfather and family.
Her grandfather and his wife were killed in 1999, but Elizabeth and her family were able to escape. For two months they hid in bushes by day and walked by night, narrowly missing raids of murderous soldiers, before arriving in neighboring Zambia. Upon their arrival, the family was initially jailed for two weeks because they did not speak the language and were therefore seen as a threat. Once released, Elizabeth decided to focus on learning many languages so that she could be a translator when people tried to communicate with her family.
After ten years of living in a refugee camp and experiencing food and supply shortages and limited medical care, Elizabeth and her family received a letter inviting them to live in the United States. They moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where Elizabeth attended high school at St. Joseph’s Academy, and where she first learned about Spring Hill College.
When she came to visit, she was of course impressed by the beautiful campus. She loved working with John Hollingsworth, her admissions counselor who was with her every step of the way. She "saw how much people at Spring Hill care about one another and are willing to help anyone in need,” and she was sold. Elizabeth is this year’s recipient of the DeWine Family Scholarship, which was established by Mike and Fran DeWine in 2014 to provide the means to attend Spring Hill College for students who otherwise would not have this incredible opportunity.
The DeWine Scholarship could not have been awarded to a more deserving student. She is already a member of the choir, the rugby team, and the Green Keepers Club. Elizabeth plans to use her Spring Hill College experience to change the world. After graduating, she intends to study international law and become a public international lawyer, traveling around the world to provide education to women in developing countries.
We can’t wait to see all the wonderful things this special student will do with her life, and we are incredibly thankful for the DeWine family’s generosity that brought her to Spring Hill College.