Danny Garcia-Rosales, senior

ACCESS program keeps students motivated
Monday, March 25, 2013
by Amanda Moore, Class of 2013

Danny Garcia-Rosales, who wants to someday become a nano-engineer, thought that his chance of going to college was out of the question. Born in Guatemala, Garcia-Rosales’ family moved to Charlotte, N.C., a few years ago to provide him and his two younger siblings with a chance at a better life.

When they moved to the U.S., his father had to become re-certified as a pediatrician and pay for expensive licensing examinations. As a result, Garcia-Rosales’ family could not afford to send their son to college.

Earning a degree was beginning to look out of reach for Garcia-Rosales until Appalachian State University awarded him an ACCESS scholarship.

The Appalachian Commitment to a College Education for Student Success (ACCESS) program, funded by private giving, provides scholarship funding so that students from low-income families in North Carolina can attend Appalachian debt free.

Garcia-Rosales is one of 214 ACCESS scholars currently on campus. “Ninety-two percent of students are in ‘good academic standing’,” said Beth Marsh, director of academic services for ACCESS. “The community that forms among ACCESS students helps keep them motivated to achieve and pursue their dreams.”

Recent graduates of the ACCESS program include chemistry major Ellie McCabe ’12, a first-year graduate student in a Ph.D. program at Wake Forest University; computer science major Allen Boone ’12 who is employed by IBM; biology major Jasa Woods ’11 who works as a biologist with the Blue Ridge Parkway; and exercise science major Amber Keck ’12 who was recently accepted into a physician’s assistant degree program. Several other graduates have become teachers at various grade levels.

“ACCESS has helped me in so many ways. It not only pushes me to achieve academic success, but also fosters a sense of family among program members,” said Garcia-Rosales, a senior applied physics major who wants to pursue a graduate degree related to engineering.

Garcia-Rosales has participated in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program’s (STEP) Academy of Science project, which provides students the opportunity to conduct research under the supervision of a faculty mentor. STEP is a program funded by the National Science Foundation. He worked with a professor to design an application for Maple – a program used by first-year students to learn calculus – to help students navigate and utilize the program. Working with another professor, Garcia-Rosales modified and created physics labs for music students, engineered a laser microphone, and led educational science programs at local community schools.

He tells donors, “Without you I would have not been able to afford college. You are part of the man I’m becoming.”

“If you really want to see your money make a difference in someone’s life ACCESS is the place to do just that,” said Marsh. “Any person who takes the time to listen to these students’ stories would be moved and understand the importance of providing them with this opportunity.”

Marsh mentioned that there are limited funds available to provide students with study abroad and summer experiences. ACCESS students are not allowed to take out loans to cover these expenses as a stipulation of being accepted into the program.

ACCESS supplements a student’s federal financial aid grant, state financial aid grant, scholarships, and other forms of financial assistance with sufficient funds to cover tuition and fees, room and board and health insurance costs.

Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock used donations from a fund honoring his late mother to create the ACCESS endowment, and it continues to benefit from private giving. Recent contributions include a $1.35 million estate gift from Nancy Bivens McCrocklin to support foster children in need of financial assistance. The Martha and Nancy Bivens ACCESS Scholarship is named for McCrocklin and the foster mother who adopted her, Martha Bivens.