On Thursday, March 30, 2023, a reception to celebrate donors who have established a scholarship or award at the College of Charleston took place at the Francis Marion hotel. More than 100 donors had the opportunity to hear from an exceptional student recipient, Adeline Rios ’25. We’d like to share her special story with you all.
Hello everyone! It’s an honor to be here tonight. First, I would like to start with a question, how many of you enjoyed college?
I see a lot of smiles. That’s spectacular because I want to take you all back to school. Whenever I start a new semester, the first days of classes are all about icebreakers. When my turn comes to tell a fun fact about myself, I will often say that I have five younger siblings. But I never explain, as I am about to with you, the magnitude of what I present as a trivial fact.
Such significance is best explained by a memory. I remember a scene from the pantry when I was younger. My two sisters are on my left, and my three brothers are on my right. I was 8 years old; August was 7, Nathanael 6, Thaddaeus 5, Elizabeth 4, and Charlotte 3.
We are looking at food. Lots of food—bakery bread, craft macaroni, captain crunch, collard greens, more than we had ever seen in our life. Yet this pantry wasn’t in our house, we hadn’t walked into the kitchen and opened a door, we had driven 15 minutes to our local food pantry. We would go here every week growing up. Yet, the idea of being poor, of being food insecure, hadn’t yet darkened my horizons.
I knew this place as the Corner Store. Now, that wasn’t its actual name, but my mom always referred to it as such, because she didn’t want all 6 of us telling people we were going to the Bluffton Self-Help.
And here I am telling 100 people.
Now, I am not revealing this for pity—I have never felt my childhood was lacking. It was fantastic. We had over 1000 books in the house, and we were all reading chapter books by the first grade. Our dreams and imaginations were super, splendid, illustrious.
I had no idea about the economic limitations my family faced as a child.
I wasn’t aware of why I was sent home with free school supplies. I didn’t know that most kids weren’t in the backpack buddy system. I thought everyone used SNAP coupons to pay for their groceries.
The point is, I was not conscious of my supporters, the teachers, government workers, coaches, and friends, who did good things for me so that I could go on to do great ones for the world.
But today I am, and for this reason, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to say thank you to each of you. Without you, I would not be here today, I would not be able to pursue a degree, let alone three. I receive no familial contribution to help pay for tuition, but I am a recipient of the Boykin, Pinckney, and Foundation scholarships. To my newfound family at CofC–thank you.
And I am working with you. To cover remaining tuition costs, I work as a waitress at the Carolina Yacht Club. Despite taking over 18 credit hour semesters, I maintain a 4.0 GPA, and I give back by volunteering with local refugee resettlement of Congolese, Colombian, and Afghan families. Next year, I plan to study abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica, where I will continue my passion of changing how the US government approaches Latin American foreign policy.
My name is Adeline Ríos. And this is my story. But so many students at the College of Charleston have a similar one. There are many families like ours. Hard-working parents, dedicated to raising model citizens, yet not having enough money to fulfill their children’s dreams of college.
With every dollar you have given, you have laid a brick for us, so that if we work hard enough, we have a path to success. And, thankfully, your brick-laying skills are far superior to those on campus. Although I am tripping everyday walking to class, I am not stumbling on the path you’ve created. There are few obstacles, the picture you have painted of our futures is brilliant.
So let me paint a portrait of you. Beautiful, generous people, thank you for all you have done, and all you will continue to do.
Please continue to enjoy tonight’s reception.