Finding Her Way Home

Posted on September 14, 2023

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In 2022, Cat Regan (Information Systems and Supply Chain Management) qualified for financial aid because she was at risk of being homeless. Now a senior, Regan feels at home at UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics – a feeling she says eluded her during a childhood full of hardships.

“So many times, I felt helpless, and it was an awful feeling,” she said. “It’s great to know that there are people at UNCG and advocates who could help me. For the first time in my life, I’m thinking I’m going to be OK.” 

Regan, 22, lives independently without financial support from her parents. That has come with its challenges, including frightening times when she didn’t think she could cover her rent while paying tuition. But with the help of scholarships and financial aid, she has maintained a strong GPA and landed a full-time job in her chosen field while working toward her bachelor’s degree.

This all marks a big turn of events from when she entered high school behind her peers academically. Regan says she lived in several different states growing up, including New York, Vermont and Indiana. The youngest of six, she credits an older sister with helping to raise her. She adds that, at times, she wasn’t sure where her next meal would come from.

Regan says the instability in her home life – her parents separated when she was young – along with years of homeschooling resulted in her not knowing basic concepts such as how to divide numbers. Good teachers and a love of reading helped her learn how to study and improve her skills. 

Eventually, she went to live with that older sister in North Carolina and worked a series of jobs to establish residency. She earned an associate degree from a community college in 2021 before enrolling at UNCG in the fall of 2022 – though her financial footing was shaky at best. A friend’s mother suggested she file a federal financial aid application for those at risk of being homeless. This made her eligible for aid based on her own income, rather than that of her family. Regan noted that Rosemary Fischer, who works in the UNCG Financial Aid office, was incredibly helpful and supportive during this process. Regan also applied for help through the Spartan Scholarship System and received a $3,000 J. Norman Black and William F. Black Scholarship at the Bryan School. 

Together with a small loan, this assistance gave Regan the financial security she needed to focus on her studies while pursuing a job in the field of information systems. She now works at a law firm as a full-time analyst on the IT Service Desk and may reduce her course load to part-time so she can balance her work with her studies. As the youngest person in the role, she says she’s excited to learn more about computers, achieve further certifications and continue to develop customer service skills.

All the while, her professors at the Bryan School have been understanding of her situation and eager to help. “There have been some times where I might have had to work late or do a project for my job that caused me to miss a class assignment,” she says. “My professors have been so supportive. They really do care about their students.”

Connie Uselman, the Business Services Coordinator and Research Administrator in the Dean’s Office at the Bryan School, says it has been a pleasure to get to know Regan and watch her put her scholarships to use. “She is such a tenacious young woman who has the will to work hard, and her GPA is strong,” Uselman says. “Now, she is reaping the rewards of her efforts.”

They are rewards that Regan hopes to pay forward by funding a scholarship of her own one day. “I want someone else to feel as incredible as I feel now,” she said. “I am able to put this scholarship toward my future, and now I can sleep at night knowing I’m not worried about where my next car payment will come from. This was such a gift.”


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