When Bill Todd, Professor of the Practice in the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech, first met Cameron Barnett, she was another student in Todd’s open office hours — discussing class, life, and everything in between.
At some point, the G. Wayne Clough Tech Promise Program — which provides a debt-free degree experience at Tech — came up in conversation. Todd, a proud advocate and donor to the program, was discussing his involvement and hopes for the scholarship. Little did he know, Barnett herself was a Tech Promise recipient.
Upon hearing Todd’s words about the scholarship and his personal support, Barnett began to cry.
“Tech Promise changed my life,” Barnett said. “It’s probably the only reason I was able to come to Tech.”
A 6-year-old Barnett was sold on attending Tech following a conversation with her mom discussing the rigor and prestige of the Institute compared to other universities in the state. From then on, Barnett describes her drive to attend Tech as a passion.
However, as the eldest of seven and unable to take out loans, Barnett knew that paying for college was a non-starter without meaningful financial help from the Institute.
As she researched scholarships to decide whether she could make her Tech dream a reality, she discovered the Tech Promise program. When she was admitted to Tech, she was not initially given the scholarship, but she contacted the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to explain her situation. Afterward, the office allotted her a space in the program.
Todd and Barnett have maintained a close mentorship since their initial meeting. When asked to describe Barnett, Todd is quick to describe her wit in class, her perseverance, and her sense of gratitude. Gratitude, in particular, is something Todd finds most compelling about Tech Promise and the value it brings out on campus.
“The culture that created Tech Promise didn’t come out of thin air,” said Todd. “We have a culture of appreciation, a culture of gratitude that makes it possible for us to support students in this way.”
Barnett graduated in December 2023 with a degree in business administration. Among her favorite classes were Todd’s as well as one where she served as a business consultant for the Campus Recreation Center, developing a plan for improvement to boost student engagement and functionality of the center. In Todd’s classes, she enjoyed writing case studies evaluating certain business aspects of healthcare systems.
Now, Barnett is taking a gap year from school to prepare for the LSAT and apply for law school while also working as a project manager at Koch Industries. Reflecting on her time at Tech, she describes it as transformative.
“I love to learn, so being able to do that at the level of Georgia Tech was exciting for me,” said Barnett. “Tech challenged me, and I really enjoyed that. I was never bored, and there was always something meaningful to contribute to.”
Barnett joins over 1,000 Tech Promise scholars who have graduated from the Institute without taking on any debt. Not only does it provide a debt-free education, but in Todd’s experience, it also reshapes the entire system of a Tech Promise recipient’s community.
“Every Tech Promise student that we fund is another step forward,” said Todd. “And it’s not just that student who is affected by the scholarship – it’s their entire ecosystem. Their family, their friends, their church, their community. Suddenly, it makes a college education a possibility where it historically has not been, for more than just the student receiving the Promise.”
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