For Blaine Berend, the dream of attending college was a complicated long shot.
“When you’re from Windthorst, Texas, where the population is about 400 people, being in the top 10 percent of your graduating class of 48 means you have to be in the top four,” Berend explained. “Add that to the fact that my dad knew very little about universities and couldn’t really afford to send me, and I knew I was on my own to figure out how to make it work.”
Berend, who was raised along with his sister by a single father, started researching college options in secret. Berend liked UNT’s variety of degree plans and proximity to his sister’s university, but he wasn’t sure he would be offered enough financial assistance.
“My older sister was the valedictorian of her class, so she went to college on a full scholarship,” Berend said. “I did well in school too, but … I knew it would be important for me to get everything into place before I got my dad’s hopes up about things.”
So, Berend completed his applications and essays on the sly, including paperwork for the Emerald Eagle Scholars program.
“I remember looking at the criteria for the program and thinking, ‘I meet all of these, but something like this has got to be too good to be true,’” he recalled.
When Berend received notice that he had not only been accepted to UNT, but also to the Emerald Eagle Scholars program, he gleefully shared the news with his father.
“I explained everything, step by step, and as it became clear that I could afford everything with the Emerald Eagle Scholars program and an on-campus job, you could see the happiness and relief on my dad’s face,” Berend said with a smile.
Now, the senior history major is making the most of his four years at UNT. He’s a member of the Student Government Association. In his executive-level role, Berend is responsible for programming and initiatives designed to help students understand and embrace the university’s spirit and traditions. He also serves on the Emerald Eagle Scholars Student Advisory Council and is an active member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.
Without the Emerald Eagle Scholars program, Berend isn’t sure where he would be, but he knows one thing for certain.
“This program means the world to those of us who participate,” he said. “No one bleeds more green than I do, and the only reason I am able to be part of UNT is because I received financial assistance. I want to spend my time as a student showcasing why a program like the Emerald Eagle Scholars is worth it.”