Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship recipients share their stories with Foundation officials

Over the last 70 years, the college education of thousands of young women at Campbell University has been made possible by the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship, which has granted more than $54 million in tuition assistance in that time. Campbell is one of 200 schools in the Southeast that has benefited from the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation and was one of the group of 29 colleges and universities to partner with it when it launched in 1954. 

On March 1, two dozen of the more than 150 female students who currently receive the scholarship had the chance to meet representatives of the Foundation and thank them in person. Speaking with Carrie Conway, senior program officer, and Trustees Chair Lyons Gray in the Oscar N. Harris Student Union, the group talked about the career opportunities they’re seeking and why they chose Campbell University to help get them there. 

“I chose Campbell because of the community,” said Amy Beltran, a criminal justice major. “My parents prayed so much for me being here; they suggested it was a good school not only for my spiritual guidance, but my education and the support of the community as well.” 

The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation has been providing annual grants for the education of deserving Christian female students at accredited educational institutions across the southeast. Today, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship is awarded to young women with financial need at 200 schools — including Campbell University, which was one of the 29 originally involved institutions when the scholarship was launched for schools in 1954. 

Since then, the Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation has granted more than $54 million in scholarships to Campbell’s female students.

The foundation is named in honor of renowned businesswoman and philanthropist Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans (1874-1953), the wife of Joseph B. Whitehead, who found great wealth as one of the original bottlers of Coca-Cola. She took over the family bottling business and real estate interests after her husband’s death and became one of the first female directors of any major American corporation when she was appointed to the board of The Coca-Cola Company in 1934. She gave generously to educational institutions throughout her life. 

The Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation was created by her youngest son, Conkey Pate Whitehead in honor of his mother. The idea was read in his will upon his death in 1940, and the Foundation was chartered in 1946 to benefit young Christian women in nine states. The Foundation has awarded more than $767 million in grants since inception in 1946.

Currently, more than 150 young women are enrolled at Campbell University receiving scholarships from the Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholarship. That’s more than 5 percent of the female population at the University. 

“I think it would be impossible for [Lettie Pate Whitehead] to imagine how this was going to play out over time, and the enormous impact it would have and the opportunities that would become available to women,” said Conway. “[Seventy years ago], there was so little opportunity for women. It really wasn’t common for women to achieve higher education. Today across the country [about] 60 percent of college students are women.”

Currently 55 percent of Campbell’s student population is female.

The Lettie Pate Foundation awards “need-based” scholarships. Many of the recipients fall into that category by way of growing up in a single-parent or foster household, growing up with financial hardships, or having some other circumstances.

“This is a very inspiring thing to be a part of,” said Conway. “It’s amazing to know that seven decades of women who’ve come through Campbell who have been part of this legacy. And you’re carrying that legacy on today.”